100 Favorite Dishes: Truffo panino from Shangri-La Cafe

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Lori Midson

No. 78: Truffo panino from Shangri-La Cafe

For several years, Massimo Ruffinazzi, who was born and raised in Casteggio, Lombardia Italy, was chef/partner at Il Fornaio, an Italian restaurant that once occupied prime real estate in LoDo, before it shuttered (the Tech Center location still stands) and was resurrected last year as Big Game. Il Fornaio has always been lauded, if, for nothing else, its breads, and Ruffinazzi is a bona fide bread-head and consummate counterman, turning out loaves of love at Shangri-La Cafe, his groovy java and sandwich cafe in Highland.

His menu -- salads, a salumi plate and a pantheon of panini -- is simple, unpretentious and tiny, but the panini ooze with big flavors, none more so than the truffo, a sandwich definitely worth the jostle for a table, the majority of which are occupied by laptop-toting studious types. Ruffinazzi uses a custom-baked bread from Il Fornaio, sandwiching the halves of pressed bread, properly baked so they yield the ideal amount of chew and crackle, with arugula leaves and weightless shavings of Parma prosciutto, its richness bolstered by melted slices of Fontina and an exquisite wild mushroom spread lightly whiffed with truffle. It could be larger; it could be available past 3 p.m., when Ruffinazzi closes his doors; but good luck finding one that's better.

Hungry for more? All the dishes in our countdown are linked below:

No. 100: Italian wedding soup from the Squeaky Bean
No. 99: American Classic Burger (and fries) from Tarbell's
No. 98: E's clam linguini from Mangiamo Pronto
No. 97: Queso a la plancha taco from the Pinche Tacos wagon
No. 96: Prosciutto-wrapped jalapeño poppers from Tony's Market
No. 95: Fried chicken from the Pinyon
No. 94: Seafood soup from Farro

No. 93: Posole from The Porker
No. 92: Breakfast Burrito from the Taco Wagon in Lafayette
No. 91: Hummus from Shish Kabob Grill
No. 90: Albondigas meatballs from Solera
No. 89: Lemon-ricotta doughnuts from Olivéa
No. 88: Döner kabob from Shondiz
No. 87: Roasted cauliflower salad from Euclid Hall
No. 86: Beef cheek enchiladas from El Diablo
No. 85: Fried Brussels sprouts from Panzano
No. 84: Pork osso buco from Osteria Marco
No. 83: Cazuela Colombiana from Cafe Brazil
No. 82: Chicken potpie from Devil's Food
No. 81: Sichuan braised beef noodle soup from Zoe Ma Ma
No. 80: Larb nua from Taste of Thailand
No. 79: Pork shank from Argyll

In late 2009, we embarked on a culinary journey that took us through our favorite dishes in the Mile High City -- one hundred, to be exact -- as a precursor to the Best of Denver 2010 issue. Now we're back with round two, counting down (in no particular order) a hundred more of our favorite Denver dishes in a list that, by our imperfect calculations, should be wrapped up by the time the Best of Denver 2011 hits the streets on March 31. In the meantime, if there's a dish you think we need to try, tell us about it in the comments section below, or shoot us an e-mail at lori.midson@westword.com.

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Location Info

Shangri-La Cafe

1575 Boulder St., Denver, CO

Category: General

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