Local Love: Pueblo's Local Restaurants are On Point
Pueblo has a taste for independent restaurants.
Back in the 1940s, Liberato "Chief" La Tronica – who came to Pueblo from Campagna, Italy – was playing cards with friends. He ended up winning a grocery store building during the card game, and he told his sons to "do something with it."
So, in 1943, they opened La Tronica's, the iconic Italian restaurant in Pueblo that, to this day, remains family-owned and still makes its spaghetti sauce from scratch with the original recipe.
"We've passed on our business from generation to generation, and families have passed on the tradition of eating here from generation to generation," says Tari Colletti, a schoolteacher who helps out on the weekends at La Tronica's, which her brother, Frank Mattarocci, owns. "We treat everyone like family."
While chain restaurants largely dominate dining scenes in many cities, Pueblo preserves a long-standing tradition of supporting local restaurants, with more than 100 that are independent.
New to the Neighborhood? Here's What You Need to Know about Pueblo
The restaurant portfolio here is diverse, with a variety of cuisine, including Indian, Mexican, Asian and Italian.
At Bistoro, diners will find a Mediterranean-inspired menu with tapas and bocadas. Angelo's brought Brooklyn-style pizza to Colorado, with family recipes passed down through several generations.
In addition to a globally inspired food scene, Pueblo also has its own brand of cuisine that includes sloppers and various dishes that creatively make use of the mighty Pueblo green chile.
Locally Grown, Locally Made
At LaTronica's, menu items are made from scratch every morning, from the sauces to the ravioli, Colletti says. While the restaurant is renowned for its Italian fare like chicken parmigiana, meatballs and pasta dishes, one of the most popular menu items is fried chicken made from a special recipe.
Local restaurants in Pueblo take pride in serving dishes that are handmade, with many relying on local purveyors.
At Colorado Taproom, 90% of the food is made in-house, and the restaurant sources its ingredients locally whenever possible, says owner Laura Stankiewicz.
Pueblo Gives a Warm Welcome
Fruits, veggies and Pueblo's famed green chiles come from Musso Farms. Meats come from Frank's Meat Market, cheeses are sourced from Springside Cheese and the bread is as local as it gets, bought from Banquet Schusters Bakery.
Last summer, Colorado Taproom brought in live bands and held karaoke nights as Colorado Avenue shut down for block parties that were mindful of social distancing. When COVID-19 restrictions shut down indoor dining in the winter, Colorado Taproom added heaters outdoors.
"Even with snow on the ground, people would still come and support us, sitting outside in earmuffs and gloves as they eat and drink," Stankiewicz says.
Green Chiles & Sloppers Rule
Hot, dry, sunny summer days, plus rich soil and Colorado water, yield the mighty Pueblo chile, which is not just famous in Southern Colorado. It attracts chile aficionados' attention from around the world who know that the littlest chiles bring the most heat.
Restaurants in Pueblo are creative when it comes to cooking with green chiles and have their own renditions of sloppers, which are a Pueblo specialty: A hamburger or cheeseburger smothered in green chili and topped with raw onions.
It's Chil(e): Pueblo's Cause for Celebration
At Colorado Taproom, green chile is incorporated into pizzas, burritos, and is, of course, a star ingredient in its sloppers.
"People will ask for green chile on everything, from burgers to scrambled eggs," Stankiewicz says.
At Simple Simon Pizza, Pueblo green chiles are a favorite topping. Plus, you can order a slopper-inspired pizza or calzone.
"They're definitely some of our big sellers," says Anna Little, manager of Simple Simon Pizza.
If you'd like to learn more about the Pueblo, CO area, check out the latest edition of Livability Pueblo, CO.