Denver's ten best Italian restaurants
Denver has a strong Italian history -- but until the last decade or so, this town's Italian restaurants were mostly run-of-the-mill red-sauce joints that you went to more for the convenience than the food. That's changed, though, and today's dining scene is rich with inventive and stylish fare from Italy -- and many of the best Italian restaurants are also Denver's best restaurants, period.
Mark Manger Agnolotti at the Wooden Table, one of Denver's best Italian restaurants.
Here, in no particular order, are the city's ten best Italian spots.
Mama Sanninos, 9312 West 58th Avenue, Arvada
This kitschy old-school Italian joint is only six years old, but it feels like it could have been opened decades ago. That's because owner Jimmy Sannino comes from an Italian family that once owned Three Sons, before they finally sold the place and it moved out of north Denver. His own restaurant serves up all kinds of good red-sauce fare; our favorite dish is the spaghetti and meatballs, which landed our Best Spaghetti and Meatballs award in this year's Best of Denver.
Carbone's Italian Sausage Deli, 1221 West 38th Avenue
"Restaurant" is a relative term here: Carbone's is really part market, part sandwich shop, and the place is tiny, table-less and takeout only. But Carbone's, which has been around for decades, serves up the best Italian subs in the city: sandwiches stacked with cured pork products and provolone or stuffed with homemade meatballs or housemade sausage and doused with tangy red sauce. And you can pick up Italian imports -- or sausage to cook at home -- while you wait for your lunch.
Spuntino, 2639 West 32nd Avenue
Chef John Broening and pastry queen Yasmin Lozada-Hissom recently took over the kitchen at Spuntino, and the charming, Italian-inspired cafe is now a great neighborhood restaurant, serving Highland simple, quality fare made with fresh, seasonal ingredients: housemade pastas, bruschetta, meatballs, sandwiches packed with cured meat or fresh mozzarella, and salads that will make you want to eat your vegetables. Don't miss the gelato, long a staple at this spot; we're particularly enamored of the sea salt chocolate caramel flavor.