Americans have always had a love for spaghetti. From delicate angel hair pasta to thick hollow bucatini strands, there is no limit to what can be made from semolina flour. And, whether you are with blood relatives or friends, sharing a meal of pasta means everyone at the table is family by default. Here are Denver’s top spaghetti and sauce restaurants that make everyone part of la familia.
(credit: Kimberly Lord Stewart)

(credit: Kimberly Lord Stewart)

777 E. 17th Ave.
Denver, CO 80203
(303) 839-3200

Don’t get too caught off guard with the plantation architecture or the pink and purple murals on the outside of Tony Pasquini’s newest pizza and pasta restaurant. It’s pure Pasquini’s. Tony wanted this newest venture to reflect the restaurant’s guiding principle—everyone is welcome. It’s hard not to smile when you see the eclectic reclaimed décor, local art and the Italian-tile colors on the walls and booths. And the food, well it will make your Nonna smile. Spaghetti and meatballs, it’s here. Handmade ravioli and gnocchi, it’s here. Soft, thick-ridged New York-style and thin crusty Napolitano pizza made from Colorado organic flour, it’s here too. Pasquini’s has an in-house bread baker and pastry chef—so save room for the chocolate candle mousse cake with the Kahlua center or tiramisu. Stop by during happy hour for a $1 slice or $4 meatball sliders. The kitchen is open until 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

Related: Top Sommeliers The Denver Area

Parisi Italian Market and Deli
4401 Tennyson St.
Denver, CO 80212
(303) 561-0234

Parisi is part Italian deli, part pizzeria and part pasta Tuscan trattoria. The latter part of the menu is not to be missed. Parisi’s pasta is almost as good as sitting in a Florentine restaurant along the Grand Canal. The pasta is made in house and doesn’t venture too far from authentic Italian recipes. The menu is divided up by three pasta types, tagliatelle, spaghetti and penne. For instance, tagliatelle con porcini is earthy with mushrooms and cream. The tagliatelle gamberetti’s pink shrimp and orange saffron cream sauce and penne with salmon and asparagus are reminiscent of the Italian seaside. For southern Italian fare, the spaghetti and penne dishes are more indicative of the warmer climates with garlic, crushed red peppers and capers in spaghetti carrettiera and penne puttanesca.

Gaetano's (credit: CBS)

Gaetano’s (credit: CBS)

3760 Tejon St.
Denver, CO 80211
(303) 455-9852

If you remember Gaetano’s as a red-checkered tablecloth kind of place, it has evolved from its “Godfather” reputation of the past. A recent remodel has transformed Gaetano’s from its Italian-American digs designed by Chauncey Smaldone’s family in 1947 to modern Mediterranean. There are plenty of delicious menu options to choose from. And although Gaetano’s took spaghetti and meatballs off the menu, read the fine print and you’ll still see polpette Napoletane, a southern Italian meatball appetizer. As for pasta, there are options from the top of the boot to the toe, including creamy alfredo, a northern Italian porcini ravioli with braised chard and a southern Italian standby of clams, crushed red pepper and garlic.

(credit: Kimberly Lord Stewart)

(credit: Kimberly Lord Stewart)

Pasta Jay’s
1001 Pearl St.
Boulder, CO 80302
(303) 444-5800

Since 1988, Jay Elowsky’s American-Italian restaurant has been filling up Boulderites with generous plates of manicotti, rigatoni, tortellone and ravioli. If you long for red-checked tablecloths, family-friendly food and big plates of pasta, look no further than Pasta Jay’s. House favorites include alfredo Williams, a decadently creamy alfredo with a breaded chicken cutlet and the homemade manicotti stuffed with basil, spinach and ricotta, blanketed in marinara sauce. Pasta Jay’s nightly specials like Monday night spaghetti night, Wednesday night lasagna and Saturday night red clam are budget friendly, local favorites. If you go, ask for a patio table, which stays open to the street for as long as the weather permits. It’s perfect for Pearl Street people watching.

(credit: Kimberly Lord Stewart)

(credit: Kimberly Lord Stewart)

Il Posto
2011 E. 17th Ave.
Denver, CO 80206
(303) 394-0100

Don’t let the small post box size of Il Posto fool you. This small dining spot in 17th is big on seasonal flavor. And just like its small area, the menu isn’t a novel like other Italian restaurants. It is a few simple dishes with simple ingredients. For pasta, Il Posto offers an ever-changing menu of about three items. At press time, the tagliatelle pasta featured capers, clams and San Marzano tomatoes; soft delicate gnocchi had a wintery blend of sage, walnut pesto and cauliflower and the last offering was pappardelle with oyster mushrooms. Check the website often for the seasonal menu of starters, primo plates and secondis.

Mangiamo Pronto
1601 17th St.
Denver, CO 80202
(303) 297-1229

This second location of Mangiamo Pronto is conveniently located near the 16th Street Mall. Mangiamo Pronto is straight-up American-Italian with vitello veal meatballs over linguini and a creamy carbonara topped with a fried egg. The cingale, a Tuscan dish made from wild boar, carries a hint of truffle over thick ribbons of pappardelle pasta. Mangiamo Pronto also has traditional main courses like chicken Milanese and eggplant parmesan, as well as pizzas that feature pancetta, capicola ham and spicy sausages.

Related: Top Mediterranean Cuisine In Denver

Kimberly Lord Stewart is a food author and journalist for CBS Denver local, Organic Food Reporter for, and the Food, Wine and Spirits editor for Denver Life magazine. Her book, “Eating Between the Lines” tells readers about the truth and myths of food labeling. Stewart is the recipient of two Association of Food Journalist awards for food news reporting and the Jessie Neal Business Journalism award. Her work can be found at