100 Favorite Dishes: Risotto frutti di mare from Firenze a Tavola

Lori Midson

No. 68: Risotto frutti di mare from Firenze a Tavola

Upstairs, in the convivial, bright-lit dining room of Parisi, the tables are littered with irresistible airy pizzas and housemade pastas, frilly salads and hearty sandwiches, and there's not an empty seat in the house. Downstairs, in Firenze a Tavola, the rusticated, moodily-lit quarters curated with sconces, wine bottles -- all Italian -- stone and brick accents, blond wooden chairs and brown harvest tables, the mood is flavored with romancing couples, winos -- serious winos -- and the rest of us who congregate to take advantage of the monthly-changing menus from owner Simone Parisi, who only serves dinner in the subterranean hearth Wednesday through Saturday.

This month's board, tricked out with osso bucco, frito misto and several pastas, is one of the most challenging -- challenging, that is, for anyone who doesn't want to implode, because everything on the damn menu reads like a love letter to Italy, except that the descriptors aren't sappy, or wistful, but pure and present. Parisi has long been lauded for its risotto, made with Acquerello carnaroli rice, sown using organic farming methods, and while it's expensive, it's also one of the reasons why the risotto here is so perfect. The beads are creamy, plump and tender, streaked with the orange of saffron and soaked in a simple shellfish stock, and the shellfish -- an arrangement of butter-poached petite lobster tails, mussels and shrimp that retain their oceanic pride -- is cooked with the same mastery as the risotto.

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
No. 78: Truffo panino from Shangri-La Cafe
No. 77: Pig-snout tacos from Guadalajara Authentic Mexican Buffet
No. 76: Speck and maple ice cream from Pizzeria Basta
No. 75: Tom yum goong from Thai Flavor
No. 74: South African black ruff from TAG
No. 73: Gumbo from Bistro One

No. 72: New England clam chowder from Bittersweet
No. 71: Celery and lime popsicle from Spuntino
No. 70: Curried split pea soup from Modmarket
No. 69: Mais pizza from Pizzeria Locale

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

Firenze a Tavola

4401 Tennyson St., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

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