Round two with Brett Smith, exec chef of Zolo Grill
This is part two of my interview with Brett Smith, the executive chef at Zolo Grill. Part one of my chat with Smith ran in this space yesterday.
Favorite restaurant in America: My all-time favorite is a classic red-sauce Italian joint called Milanese in Poughkeepsie, New York, near where I grew up. It's where my parents would take us if we had a good report card; thank God my bro usually came through for us on that count. I usually started with clams casino and then moved on to the veal Parmesan. I have lots of good memories of that place, and Poughkeepsie usually doesn't get much love, so they deserve a shout-out.
Best food city in America: It's got to be New York City. If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere. That city definitely has the best food -- or at least close to it -- when it comes to every type of cuisine there is.
Favorite Denver/Boulder restaurant(s) other than your own: My wife and I have a three-year-old and a five-year-old, so we don't get out as much as we used to, but when we go to a show or a game in Denver, we really enjoy Osteria Marco. I love the cheeses and charcuterie, and it's a great place to go and graze and have a couple glasses of wine. In Boulder, I really enjoyed Cafe Aion the one and only time I had the chance to go -- and now I can't wait to go back.
What you'd like to see more of in Denver/Boulder from a culinary standpoint: East Coast-style delis. Anyone from back there knows what I'm talking about. Even in the small town where I'm from, you could probably find ten delis with sandwiches as good as any we have here -- except for Masterpiece Deli. Those guys rule!
What you'd like to see less of in Denver/Boulder from a culinary standpoint: I'm pretty happy with the way the dining scene is evolving here, but if I had to pick one thing, it would be the wealth of mediocre Mexican food places.
Current Denver culinary genius: I'm not trying to be a brown-noser here, but I gotta go with my boss, Dave Query. There are lots of great chefs all over the place, but it takes great business sense and a whole lot more to have the number of successful restaurants that he's got. He's been ahead of the curve on just about every move he's made, and at this stage in my career, it's business owners like him that I aspire to be like.