kristy holland

W hen it comes to a fun and romantic night on the town, the meal is often the main attraction. But what if your taste buds pucker at the suggestion of a seafood feast, or your wallet has the same reaction when a girl starts throwing around restaurant choices that include phrases like "farm-to-table" and "fusion."

There's no need to feel embarrassed by your penchant for simple foods or your need to keep the budget down, my friend. This town is chockablock with places that can class up a college-boy's go-to food -- pizza -- and turn eating a few slices into a date-worthy event. Set the stage by using words like "rustic," "artisan" and "Tuscan" when you suggest a 16-inch dinner pie to the gal of your dreams. Then, head to one of the hot spots.

Strut your stuff

Dress up and take a seat at Pizzeria Locale's (1730 Pearl St.; pizzerialocale.com) marble-top bar and you and your date can be intimate and on display while you enjoy a simple, but upscale meal. Start with a salad, and lubricate the conversation with Italian wine on tap. Choose from gourmet toppings like buffalo mozzarella, cipollini onions, arugula, or even sweet corn on thin-crusted red or white pizzas ($9-$16) and finish off with the to-die-for butterscotch pudding.

Off the beaten path

Skip the reservation -- or worse, waiting for a table. North Boulder's Proto's Pizzeria Napoletana (4670 North Broadway St.; protospizza.com) is worth the drive (or bus ride) uptown. Bakers hand-toss the pies while you watch, and the dim-lit dining room is pleasantly casual, but romantically moody. Feel like getting even further off the beaten path? Proto's doesn't deliver, but they'll half-cook your pizza so you can pick it up and finish it in your oven at home -- a good way to get a fresh, gourmet slice in your own space.

Keep things casual

Not quite ready for a cheesy kiss over the dinner table? If it's early in your efforts to make a move, you can still take your girl out for a get-to-know-you meal without a lot of pressure. Try Mod Market (1600 28th St., #1212; modmarket.com), which stands out among the string of Twenty Ninth Street fast food joints for its delicious, rustic and affordable single meal-size pizzas and it's a contemporary, casual dining room. It's upscale without being over-the-top intimate.

Cook at home

Instead of opting for a lowbrow Dominos delivery, if you want to impress at home, make your own pizza. It's not as hard as it sounds -- all you need is a baking sheet, an oven, and a little creativity with your toppings. Drop by any of Boulder's Whole Foods Markets (wholefoodsmarket.com) and pick up pre-kneaded pizza dough, swing through the salad bar to choose toppings and spend the evening assembling your own creative pizzas over a bottle of wine.

Tip: Clean it up before inviting your lady over; there's nothing grosser than rolling out pizza dough on a dirty countertop.

Kristy Holland writes about date-night ideas once a week for the Colorado Daily. Tell her about your date ideas at boulderdatenight@gmail.com