711 Grant Street
Denver, CO 80203
Luca has been dishing up some of the best Italian food in the West for more than eight years. Frank Bonanno describes his popular restaurant as a “celebration of richness and fullness in life … through real Italian culture and cuisine.” Luca is part of a string of three restaurant’s the celebrated local chef owns at the intersection of Grant and 7th streets (Bones and Mizuna are right next door). Just visiting their website and looking through the menu makes your mouth water.
1700 Wynkoop Street
Denver, CO 80202
Venice Ristorante is one of three fancy Italian restaurants from the same owners in the Denver metro area where you’ll open up your pocketbook pretty wide, but you’ll be getting great food and classy service. Best of Westword editors said the food has just kept getting better and better when they honored it with their “Best High-End Italian Restaurant” award in 2009. Venice has now been thriving at its highly visible location in in LoDo across from Union Station for more than five years. There’s also a Venice Ristorante Italiano in Greenwood Village and Chianti Ristorante & Winebar in the Denver Tech Center, all owned by Alessandro and Sara Carollo.
Pagliacci’s Italian Restaurant
1440 West 33rd Avenue
Denver, CO 80211
If you’ve ever been through Denver on I-25 you’ve probably seen the sign for Pagliacci’s a classic Italian family restaurant that’s been at its northwest location for more than 50 years. Sicilian immigrant Frank Grandinetti opened Pagliacci’s in the the 1940s when the neighborhood was an Italian one. It’s got a great old feel to it in the dining room. Recommendations: the minestrone sour, the pastas made in-house or the tiramisu.
Washington Park Grille
1096 South Gaylord Street
Denver, CO 80209
The Grille describes itself as an “Italian grille with a twist.” The menu features gourmet “pizzette” and a wide selection of tapas. There’s a horseshoe bar and two patios for diners and drinkers.
Zucca Italian Ristorante
808 Main Street
Louisville, CO 80027
Head to Louisville for some excellent pasta at Zucca, part of a crop of new eateries in Louisville’s Olde Town. It’s run by the same successful operators who run the Huckleberry in Louisville and the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse and Aji in Boulder. On a recent visit we were really wowed by an appetizer called Asparagi, Uova e Parmigiano (grilled asparagus, fried egg, parmesan, white truffle oil). Their food comes from all parts of Italy, “from the Sicilian coasts to the Dolomite Mountains in the north.”
Carelli’s of Boulder Ristorante Italiano
645 30th Street
Boulder, CO 80303-2310
Carelli’s of Boulder Ristorante Italiano recently won a Boulder County Gold award and was given high marks for its romantic decor and tasty cuisine. Go for the risottos, the crepes and the fresh fish specials. They have an extensive wine menu and multiple gluten free options.
CBSDenver.com visitor Jim shared the following comment after reading our article (which originally erroneously stated that “Denver isn’t really known as a city with strong Italian roots”):
“Denver isn’t really known as a city with strong Italian roots….” Whoever wrote the opening to this article obviously doesn’t know what they are talking about….and didn’t do much research before they wrote it! Denver has a very long and colorful history of Italians residents. The area from about 32nd Avenue to 44th Avenue….and from Federal….all the way east to I-25 was known as Denver’s Little Italy!
My great grandfather came to this country from Potenza, Italy….back in the later half of the 1800s! There were/are 1,000s of immigrant families who did the same thing at that time. They came here to Colorado because the climate reminded them of the Northern part of Italy from where they left. The families who came from Potenza to Denver even founded their own lodge at 38th and Shoshone street. My grandfather’s older brother was one of the first “presidents” of that organization. His photo is proudly displayed just as you walk in to the place….along with all of the other Lodge leaders from its inception thru today.
Not only is there a Potenza lodge….but there is also a “Son’s of Italy” organization which is located on 35th Avenue….a few blocks west of Sheridan Blvd. This organization does many fund raising events for different causes within the city of Denver and the state of Colorado.
Denver has a very colorful history of mafioso types too….including the Smaldone’s. They owned and operated Gaetano’s Italian Restaurant….still located at 38th and Tejon. It is….or was recently owned and operated by a group of investors which includes our new Governor John Hickenlooper.
About 3 or 4 years ago now….the Colorado History Museum had a year long exhibit of “Italian’s in Denver”! It illustrated the importance of Italians in Denver over the last 125+ years. My grandfather’s sister was pictured in a giant photograph making bread in an old outdoor brick oven using old used film cans….just as you walked into the exhibit!
And of course….anyone who is familiar with Italians in Denver cannot forget to mention the Leprino family. They own Leprino Cheese Company. Leprino makes mozzarella cheese for ALL of the biggest pizza chains in the country…and around the world. Jim Leprino is most likely the richest man in Colorado.
So….although those of you who are not native to Colorado would never realize that there is/was a large Italian presence in this state…..I can assure you that there was….and is still a huge Italian presence here!
Oh…and by the way….the only Italian restaurant from the list above….that has been around for decades….is Pagliacci’s! The others….this native Colorado Italian has never been to. The Blue Parrot in Louisville is the only one that I am familiar with….in Louisville! And although I know several Carelli’s….I can’t speak for the restaurant in Boulder!