In the world of food fads, one ethnic cuisine endures and prospers in America: Italian.
Pizza, sausage, veggie and pasta have become part of the Colorado and U.S. restaurant vocabulary, and, while for many years the number of authentic Italian restaurants remained relatively constant in the state, today there is a resurgence of cooking talent and quality food that is producing new set and style of Italian restaurants to serve a Colorado clientele whose devotion to the cuisine has never been higher.
And yet, most of even these new restaurateurs still use family recipes on their menus. One thing is true with all: When you walk into an Italian restaurant in Colorado, the proprietors will love sharing the food and wine of their beloved Italy.
In the IN STATE section of this issue of VINE, we featured one of the new harvest of Italian restaurants in the state and one that is an old landmark. Here is a further sample of some of the best places to enjoy Italian cuisine around Colorado.
CHIANTI RISTORANTE ITALIANO 5121 S. YOSEMITE ST., GREENWOOD VILLAGE * (303) 796-0611
When Alessandro Carollo and wife Sara moved from Sicily to Denver, they set their sights on opening their own restaurant. He found space in the Denver Tech Center and opened Chianti, which quickly became a family affair when Carollo's artistic mother flew in to paint murals on the walls depicting various scenes from Tuscany. Alessandro designed the menu and Sara figured out how to operate the front of the house. Ristorante Italiano was the first Italian restaurant in the southern section of Denver to offer the authentic tastes of Italy, specifically those of Tuscany. The small restaurant looks and feels like a Tuscan trattoria with intimate seating in an upscale ambiance.
Carollo's menu incorporates flavors of Florence with recipes from his heritage. Signature dishes:
Calamaretti: crisply fried calamari with a classic marinara sauce.
Cappelacci di zucca: ravioli filled with pureed butternut squash and topped with a brown butter sage sauce.
Pollo alla Caciatore: Chicken braised with tomatoes, onion and garlic.
TWO METRO LOCATIONS:
5960 S. HOLLY ST., GREENWOOD VILLAGE * (720) 482-9191 1700 WYNKOOP ST., DENVER * (303) 534-2222
Carollo's second restaurant, Venice, opened its doors in an upscale shopping center on Orchard Road next to The Preserve in Greenwood Village in 2003. It has been busy ever since, with lines forming on holidays and weekends. Venice is an open, large restaurant with a private dining area, muraled walls and a bar with high-top table seating. Banners gracefully adorn the ceiling, and Pavarotti usually can be heard singing Italian ballads in the background. The restaurant is run by general manager Nunzio Marino, one of Denver's most notable restaurant managers, having spent seven years as general...