Monday, March 22, 2010

Where to Eat: Denver

[via Flickr]

My birthday was this past Saturday and after a leisurely breakfast of a donut with chocolate icing and coconut from the local donut shop and a chai latte from the 'bucks, we packed up and headed out for my birthday treat--dinner and an overnight stay at the Vee Bar Ranch. We were looking forward to lounging around in our creekside cabin, which featured a fireplace and several cozy rocking chairs. Unfortunately, upon our arrival we found that they had overbooked the cabin, and we would instead be staying in a plain Jane lodge room. And nary a discount in sight. So . . . D and I decided it just wouldn't do, and a change in plans was set in place. We headed back home, did a little Internet sleuthing, and found a great deal on a hotel in downtown Denver. Instead of country livin', we would be spending my birthday in the Big City. No complaints from me!

On the two-hour drive to Denver, I used my handy-dandy BlackBerry to search for Italian restaurants in the area, and out of chance happened upon Panzano [warning: their website has music]. They had me at their motto: "Chi mangia bene, viva bene." (Those who eat well, live well.) A quick search on Open Table (my fave new app) told me that they had reservations available at 9:15p, so I snapped it up, and our dinner plans were set. We arrived in the city around 8p, checked into our room at the Westin Tabor Center (big room, nice view of downtown goings-on), slipped into our fancy clothes (or, I did anyway, D pulled on his cowboy boots), and headed out to the restaurant. As luck would have it, Panzano was literally just a few blocks away from our hotel.

For a Saturday evening (albeit a little late), the restaurant wasn't that busy, and we were seated immediately. A quick look at the menu via my BlackBerry earlier had looked promising; I was even more excited about the culinary possibilities after seeing that the entire back page of the menu was dedicated to extolling their dedication to local, organic, sustainable, and naturally-raised food products and other green initiatives. Definitely a restaurant right up my alley! Our meal was top-notch, and I would highly recommend Panzano to anyone visiting downtown Denver.

We started our meal with crespelle ai funghi, or mushroom-filled crepes. The leftover fondata sauce was excellent when sopped up by the house-baked bread.

For my entree, I ordered rosemarino tagliatelle, a house-made pasta infused with rosemary and served with dried cranberries, toasted pine nuts, goat cheese, and a lemon emulsion. I think I may have to try to make something similar later this week. Really nice flavors and incredibly light. It's always nice when you finish a meal of pasta and aren't entirely stuffed to the gills!

Dustin opted to try the Bear Mountain skirt steak, served over faro with winter greens and house-cured pancetta, along with sauteed mushrooms and Gorgonzola cheese. He is now a little obsessed with this cut of meat (especially since we recently watched an episode of Barefoot Contessa that featured this same cut) -- I think we may have to try to source some from Wag's sometime soon.

For dessert we shared tiramisu (unfortunately we snarfed it down before I could get a picture) -- it was good, but admittedly not among the best we have had. One bonus was the garnish of chocolate-covered espresso beans. Yum! All in all, quite a nice way to celebrate my birthday!

Panzano
909 17th Street at Champa
Denver, CO 80202
303.296.3525
Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (note: they also have a gluten-free lunch and dinner menu!)
http://www.panzano-denver.com/
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