Reader: Locanda del Borgo is in a state of reddiness

Locanda del Borgo
Inspired by her visit to Mama Sannino's, Laura Shunk served up a list of Denver's five best neighborhood Italian restaurants. Which inspired fond memories of Fratelli's and Valente's from some readers, as well as a slap from another for skipping Cafe Jordano.

And then there was this rave from Barslinger for Locanda del Borgo, which did make the cut:

Locanda is by far the best Italian restaurant I have eaten at anywhere, not just Denver. I was happy to see good press for Mama Sannino's great red sauce joint. Jimmy and his wife are some of the hardest-working people you will find in the business, they deserve the good press and I love the food.

What's your favorite (still open) red sauce spot in town? Which closed spots do you still miss?

Location Info

Locanda Del Borgo

5575 E. 3rd Ave., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

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Having lived amongst the Italian descendants of Boston for a decade, I feel obliged to state that though Cafe Jordano is very good for the generally bland Denver suburbs (Mexican and pub fare notwithstanding), it's definitely not a top of the list kind of place. My wife ordered a four-cheese pasta dish, and we're pretty sure one of the cheeses was either American or something like a cheddar, which no self-respecting Italian place would put on pasta. On bar pizza? Fine, but buffalo chicken is allowed there, too, so I rest my case. Abrusci's in Applewood is as good if not better. It would seem that pretty much any Italian-descended family can run a "good" Italian restaurant in the Denver suburbs, but many of those places would face stiff competition in the northeast. For the most part the Italian suburban restaurants here are decidedly midwestern (meaning bland and mostly just serving too-sweet red sauce or *shudder* alfredo sauce).


"too-sweet red sauce or *shudder* alfredo sauce)"

Yes, but isn't that what they are referring to in this article by "red sauce joints?"  They are those places with the red and white checked tablecloths and wicker wrapped jugs of Chianti.  The places that don't serve actual Italian food, but the food improvised by Italian-American immigrants in New York and New Jersey at the turn of the 20th century.

Spaghetti and Meatballs, for example is not an Italian dish at all (any more than Fettuccine Alfredo is).  The same goes for ricotta-laced lasagna, wedding soup, chicken Parmesan, etc.  You won't find of those things in Italy (unless you're at a place catering to Americans). 

I'd definitely agree that the best of these kinds of places are still found on the East Coast, but what they're doing isn't far removed from what the places in the midwest are doing.  St. Louis, for example, surely has an Italian American restaurant culture to rival that of Boston, if not New York.  Maybe they're using a little more peperoncini and a little less sugar in Beantown, but it's the same sort of thing.

As far as good red sauce joints in the metro area, I think Laura got most of them.  I once liked Armando's in Southeast Aurora.  They've moved recently, and I think opened a spot in Parker as well.  I haven't been in a while, but I used to love their eggplant alla Romana, which was thin eggplant parm rolled with prosciutto and provolone and doused with red.  Good stuff.  I've lived here over 20 years, and have yet to try Pagliacci's.  Isn't that still considered the Denver classic for this particular model?

As far as real-deal Italian goes, I think Luca still takes the cake.

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