Pantaleone's - Kitchen Nightmares Update - Open or Closed?

Pantaleone's Kitchen Nightmares

In this Kitchen Nightmares episode, Gordon Ramsay visits Pantaleone’s in Denver, Colorado.

Pantaleone's was owned by Pete Fafalios and wife Paulette, who opened the restaurant in 1985.

Pete is the chef and makes the pizzas, which won lots of awards back in the early days.

The restaurant was busy in the 90’s and had rave reviews about the food but not anymore.

Pete is still stuck in the glory day of his successful years and doesn’t believe the food is the problem, even though customers complain every day.

They are close to shutting down completely and need help from Gordon to make the restaurant successful again.

Gordon arrives at the restaurant and meets Paulette, Pete and their son Josh.

He sits with the couple and finds out the award for best pizza in Denver was given to him in 1985.

He asks the family where in Italy they are from and finds out that Pete is Greek and he trained in New york.

He is hands on, but they are closed Sundays and Mondays because he watches football and has to have his siesta, even though Sunday is possibly the busiest day for pizza delivery.

Gordon then learns they don’t have a delivery service for their pizza and are pick up and eat in only.

Paulette reveals Pete doesn’t listen to anyone and Gordon will have a challenge to get him to change his ways.

Gordon wants to know when Josh is taking over the business as he is already 33 but Pete says he is the head chef still.

Gordon pauses his interview with them to talk with Josh who says he is frustrated.

He tells Gordon that his father keeps postponing his training to take over from him in the kitchen.

Gordon sits down to try out the menu and is served by Celestina.

She thinks the problem with the restaurant is the owners who don’t agree on how the place should be run.

He orders a sausage pizza, a toasted meatball hero, a calzone and a linguini.

Gordon compares the dining room to a hospital waiting room.

Whilst he is waiting he talks to other customers who say the meatballs taste like cat food.

Gordon notices a hologram of a spooky clown on the wall.

The calzone comes first, it is enormous, too full and cold in the middle.

Next to arrive is a sausage pizza, it is also enormous, the dough is raw and it is dripping with grease and oil.

Pete is not accepting of any of the feedback and continues to protest that it is the best pizza in the city.

Gordon calls Celestina to complain about the extremely thick crusts.

She tells him that is the thin crust and that other customers complain about the crust too.

Josh wants to throw it away but Pete says he will eat it and it will not be wasted.

The meatball hero comes next, it is enormous and Gordon can’t figure out where to start.

It is soggy and flaky and Gordon describes it as a diaper full of meatballs.

The final dish of linguine and clams, it is bland, watery and has canned clams.

He empties the juice at the bottom of the dish into a glass.

Gordon calls the kitchen staff together to give them his feedback; he says it was the worst experience he had.

Pete is in denial and disagrees with him on all his complaints about the food.

Gordon could tell immediately the clams were canned and points out they lied on their menu saying all the food was fresh and homemade.

Gordon has the family be honest with Pete and they say that the pizzas are not the best in Denver.

Gordon sits with Pete and tries to get him see he is in denial but he still refuses to concede on problems with his cooking and the menu.

Later, Pete and Josh are sharing a smoke outside and Josh tells him he agrees with Gordon and he hopes he listens.

She tells Pete that if he refuses to listen and change, she will leave the business.

The next day, Gordon sets up a taste test to see what people think about the pizza.

He will be sharing the feedback to the Pantaleone’s staff via a video link.

Gordon puts Pete’s pizza up against the best pizza in the town and a store bought pizza.

People said they liked Pete’s pizza the least with 10% of the vote after complaining that it was too soggy, greasy and thick.

Even the store-bought pizza beat their pizza with 15% of the vote.

The best pizza in town gained an impressive 75% of the vote.

Pete is shocked at the results and Gordon tells him their pizza is dated and it is a new era.

The 1991 review of their pizzas was outdated and invalid 30 years later.

Gordon sends the staff away and meets with Pete alone.

He asks Pete if he would change his pizza and he says no.

Josh and Paulette say they are embarrassed and tired of working for something that isn’t working anymore.

This makes Pete finally commit to change as he doesn’t want to lose his family.

Gordon then decides to work on the father son relationship with some bonding time.

Gordon tells them about Rao’s, a pizza place that has been open since 1886, over 100 years.

He is taking Pete and Josh to Las Vegas to visit the restaurant via private plane.

They get to meet the owner of Rao’s, who tells them he is the fourth generation to run the restaurant.

He learned the business under his father and he gives them tips on how to pass on the business to family.

While they are away Gordon gives the restaurant a makeover, he has replaced the wood panelling and the plastic table cloths.

The restaurant has been brightened and is more contemporary with pictures of family and Italy on the walls.

The branding is also more prominent and the scary clown is gone.

The menu and portion sizes has been reduced with traditional Italian pizzas with modern contemporary twists added.

The next surprise is that a delivery van has been donated for their pizza new delivery service.

For relaunch night, Gordon gives both Josh and Pete a pre-service morale booster out the back which includes smashing a plate.

Gordon puts Josh in charge of the sauté line and Pete in charge of the pizzas and expediting.

Customers are let in and Pete and Josh start bickering again.

Pete isn’t communicating and is overwhelmed by orders.

Gordon is upset and pulls Pete and Josh to one side to tell them to focus on one ticket at a time.

After the pep talk they get organised and food starts going out of the kitchen, to the delight of customers who loved the food.

The relaunch night ends a success and Gordon says his goodbyes to the family.

What Happened Next at Pantaleone's?

In December 2013, Pete told local press that he was still struggling as the new menu had lost him regular customers and the episode was yet to air.

He also claimed there was some sabotage during the relaunch scenes to make for better television.

After the episode aired, business improved by 70% at the restaurant.

They still remained closed on Sunday's and did not add a delivery service until 2017.

Yelp reviews since Gordon has visited the restaurant are mostly positive and the locals are pleased with the new menu.

Trip Advisor are also mostly positive.

Planning a visit? Menus and more can be found on their website.

Pantaleone's was aired on 11 April 2014, the episode was filmed in July 2013 and is Kitchen Nightmares season 7 episode 2.

Read About More Kitchen Nightmares

Previous episode - Amy's Baking Company

Next episode - Old Neighborhood

This post was last updated in March 2023.


  1. I'm watching this episode for the first time on BBC America as I write this and all I can say is WOW! I understand pride, but this guy Pete is off his rocker! How can he not see that what he serves is crap. I know that pot is legal everywhere in Colorado, so you know that you are doing something wrong if you can't get the stoners with the munchies in your place. THEY EAT TWINKIES FOR "Pete's" sake. Figure that one out if you can.

  2. I ate at Pantaleone's several times in the 2000s. I thought the sausage and cheese were amazing. Haven't been in a long time and was surprised to see them on Kitchen Nightmares. Glad to see they're still in business and am looking forward to going back again.

  3. Pete's other son, not shown in this episode, was a roommate of mine. He passed away this year. Pete's restaurant is struggling, he didn't stick with the new menu, and has planned on selling the restaurant a couple times. The few times I've been since Kitchen Nightmares, it was empty. Pete's had it hard and is too stubborn. Very sad :(

    1. I have ordered from Pantaleone's, and it continues to serve excellent pizza. Since the Nightmare episode, the dining room has been closed off sealed. Pete still runs the kitchen his own way, and occasionally I will see his son there helping out. This is as recent as 6/2021.

  4. I used to eat at Pantaleones all the time. The restaurant is much worse since Ramsay visited, the portions are now far smaller and a lot more expensive. I used to love the pizza there.


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