Pagliacci's, Denver's oldest single-family-owned Italian restaurant, will close on August 19

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Lori Midson
If you spilled tears at the news that Gaetano's, one of Denver's only remaining red sauce joints, was temporarily shuttered for an extensive facelift (and a new menu to boot that's definitely not old-school Italian), grab a bucket and a box of Kleenex, because after 66 years of serving spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna and minestrone soup delivered to tables in steaming saucepans, Pagliacci's, Denver's oldest single-family-owned Italian restaurant, will close on Sunday, August 19.

See also:
- Slide show: Last supper at Pagliacci's

"It's been an awesome experience," says Mark Langston, whose great-aunt Thelma and her first husband, Frank, opened the restaurant in 1946, converting the former house -- and, at one time, Vito's Cabaret -- into a convivial gathering place for north Denverites who came to feast on plates of spaghetti in garlic-kissed tomato sauce.

"It's just time to move on," says Langston, whose mother, Rose, bought Pagliacci's in 1977, giving the dim-lit dining room with its arches and Italian countryside murals, an uplift here and there. "There are no extenuating circumstances. We all just decided that it was a good move for the family," he explains, noting, too, that it's the only Italian restaurant in Denver that's operated under the original name and remained in the same family and in the original location since its inception.

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Lori Midson
The restaurant, which Langston says was named after Thelma and Frank's favorite opera, will be bulldozed to make way for apartments, which will undoubtedly make regulars, nostalgic types and red-sauce worshipers more bitter than stale garlic. "We have people who come in once a week, and I know it's not going to be easy telling them that we're closing, but I think we've given people a lot of great memories," he says, adding that he made the announcement today to the staff, one of whom wept.

And Langston admits that what he'll miss the most are the faces of those regulars, some of whom have been coming in for decades: "I'll really miss the relationships that I have with all of these people. I see kids coming in here before prom -- kids that I knew as babies. We've had a lot of people coming through these doors...it's like throwing a dinner party every night."

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Lori Midson
But while the Langstons are shuttering their iconic restaurant, they're not leaving the food business -- or selling the name. "While it's time to give this up, we're looking to develop a product line of our soup, sauces, salad dressing and lasagna," he tells me. "We're exploring that option right now and entertaining a company to produce our recipes under our label."

In the meantime, you've got just over a month to get your spaghetti and meatball fix, and there will be no goodbye celebration -- or commiseration. "There won't be a last hurrah," says Langston. But you can bet there will be plenty of tears.

"I know," laments Langston, sighing. "I starting rolling meatballs here when I was ten years old and now I'm running the place. I wouldn't have given it up for anything, but it's time for a new chapter."

And one less old-school Italian joint with Frank and Dean crooning in the background.



Location Info

Venue

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Pagliacci's Italian Restaurant - CLOSED

1440 W. 33rd Ave., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

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23 comments
Brian Martinez
Brian Martinez like.author.displayName 1 Like

Don't think I've been to Amici's, but I totally remember the Gemini.  Everyone loved their tea, but their food was a different story (granted, this was 30+ years ago...).

samcrows
samcrows

 Fanelli's Amici's is the one on about 38th and Wadsworth, not the one up on 92nd.

samcrows
samcrows

 Not if there is no family that wants to work as hard as you have to in a restaurant. I am sure they are getting a mint for the land.  I cannot blame them, but it makes me terribly sad nonetheless.

samcrows
samcrows

 Back in the day, everything was local and organic b/c pretty much everything was grown in people's yards.  Hell, Leprino's got its start as a cheese cart.  People took the dandelions right out of the yard for salad (grossed me out as a kid; now I am nostalgic). But your diatribe makes me want to puke.  They need to be able to get into major grocery stores (e.g., Aiello's sauce).  Maybe in your rarefied world, WF is all that exists; this is not the case for most people.

samcrows
samcrows

 OH the sign!!!!  Probably to be scrapped, like all of the rest of the neighborhood.

samcrows
samcrows

 You have said it all.  Bad enough that most all of the old Italians have passed on (and good for those still living!).  My heart is broken that there is little left of the old neighborhood, and that more is leaving everyday. Long live the North Denver Paesani!  I at least keep the Christmas Eve tradition alive!

jojo
jojo

 People dont like to leave actual Denver, but Amici's on Wadsworth (slightly north of 38th).  Salads are not gourmet, but the homemade spaghetti is still good and pretty good meatballs.  Much better now that they moved out of that strip mall and into the old Gen=mini (the site of many childhood horror meals for me).

Jan
Jan

As a former resident of Denver now living in New Mexico, one of my favorite places to dine when visiting was Paggliacci's. A visit there for the chicken livers Caruso was a must along with the minestroni soup. A gastronome's delight !

Breadfruit
Breadfruit

You must not have had the wilted lettuce with your lasagna.  If so, you would have passed it in 03 seconds.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

It's a free country ... shout back if you have a point.

offdisc
offdisc

"tangible" because you knew what you were getting when you walked in the door. Unlike today's fad of "seasonal menus" which change based on the local weather, drought conditions, chef's partner's mood that morning.... "real" because the restaurant had "made it", meaning been in business long enough to establish a reputation. The restaurant business is one of the toughest markets, with openings and closings occurring more rapdily than plot twists on a soap opera. Fad restaurants come and go; a place that stays in business for 66 years has proven its staying power, thus making it "real".

Mantonat
Mantonat

...while populists just shout down anyone who disagrees.

BustThis
BustThis

For somebody who left Denver because you believe it is so shitty, you sure do have a keen interest in any news involving Denver.  Still looking for any excuse to justify a stupid move?, or is the place you moved to so shitty that you're still interested in what goes on here? Either way, you're a dumbass.  Go live in 1959, it sound like you belong there.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

About the same time that the KKK and DPD Criminal Gangs got run out of town ...

CJM
CJM

Hopefully they focus on Organic - Also the only way one makes a choice to move on from a business is the right offer came along - I wish the family luck and hope for their future success - Market research is key as well as strategy implementation - Organic and Local would be the right direction - Then their products would be sold at Whole  Foods which supports Local -

YouareaTool
YouareaTool

"Call it flight, call it economics, whatever..." We call it "dumbass rednecks leaving town." It's no wonder you worked for United, the shittiest airline in the history of aviation. Thanks for leaving and increasing the average IQ of Denver residents.

AJ66
AJ66

will they actually be open on the 19th - or will their last business day be on the 18th.....I would love to celebrate my 23rd wedding anniversary on the 19th by eating there on their last day

Dan5280
Dan5280

Saucy Noodle and Nonna's are both pretty good.  

Dan5280
Dan5280

DIA a bill of goods?  You realize it's the worlds 5th busiest airport right?

monopod
monopod

I don't really see how a place with seasonal menus, shared plates and mixologists isn't "tangible and real" but an old-school red-sauce joint is.  They're just different styles of restaurant, both ideally run by people passionate about their food and service.  I get that you're more comfortable in the latter kind of place, but that doesn't mean it's any more "real" - just that you prefer it.  I personally like that there's a broad variety of styles and foods available now, unlike 15 years ago when all Denver had was steakhouses and red-sauce Italian places.  I agree, though, it's a shame this particular place is closing.

monopod
monopod

It doesn't automatically include the domain suffix in the name, just the part before the @.  So, not really a big deal.

Dough
Dough

My apologies for taking you away from the Peter Boyles show.

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