Pizza restaurant emerges from part of art gallery

       Dave Brackett spent 30 years working for the government - 22 as a fighter pilot and 8 as a military attache. His travels took him throughout Europe, awakening the taste buds of a “life-long hobby chef,” as he calls himself. Dave Brackett stands beneath his recently installed sign.
Westside Pioneer photo
       On May 23, Brackett will move up to “pizzaiolo'” (an Italian word, loosely translated as professional pizza-maker).
       That will be the day Pizzeria Rustica, a restaurant he created in a location renovated from part of the neighboring Squash Blossom Gallery's 19th-century brick building, will open at 2527 W. Colorado Ave.
       With indoor and outdoor tables (70 seats in all), the locale will be like a “generations-old neighborhood tratoria in Italy,” states the website for Pizzeria Rustica.
       The business will specialize in varieties of thin pizza, cooked in a wood-fired, 700-degree oven. Before retiring from the military last year, “I went all over Italy” looking for recipes, he said. Brackett pledged to use only high-quality ingredients: “Pepperoni is not on the menu.”
       He has applied for a liquor license, with the expectation of eventually serving “unusual” wines and microbrews, including some from Italy.
       In an agreement with Squash Blossom (which will provide much of the artwork on the walls), the Pizzeria uses about 900 square feet that formerly made up the east wing of the gallery, plus a 1,200-square-foot open area facing the avenue that will become the restaurant's outer café. (Squash Blossom still retains about 7,000 square feet interior space.)
       Occurring over the past several weeks, the renovation has included a kitchen built in the rear of the restaurant, interior remodeling, new furniture, and flagstone laid in the patio. A Westside resident, Brackett endeavored to use Westside people in the project, including general construction, subcontractors and the mason who built his oven.
       Pizzeria Rustica will have 10 employees, full- and part-time, including close family members, Brackett said. His wife Laura will be the sommelier (in charge of the wines), and his daughter Jeanette will be the assistant manager.
       The business will be open daily for lunch and dinner during the summer months.

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