First look: An Italian feast at Amerigo
On Saturday night, Amerigo Delicatus Restaurant & Market, Iain Chisholm's new Italian restaurant on Upper Larimer, hosted a friends and family practice dinner, inviting about forty people to taste a shortened version of the menu that he'll unveil mid-week when he opens to the public -- and I was right there in the thick of things...expediting, something I haven't done since college.
And I had a blast, thanks to a remarkably patient crowd, and a forgiving staff that came together under the pressure of "first-night" jitters and a POS system that refused to spit out tickets. "Between five months of permits, construction, sign-offs, inspections and then opening the restaurant and not having a functioning POS system, it was like two trains colliding," says Chisholm, who's helped open six restaurants but is now fully responsible for his own.
And while Chisholm, a chef, wasn't initially planning to wield his knives in the kitchen -- "I'll be the maitre d', I'll be bartending, and I'll be managing the front and back of the house," he told me back in May -- he's since given that notion some thought. "I don't know what the hell I was thinking by convincing myself that I could delegate right off the bat, but for the foreseeable future, I'll be leading the line. I need to be there to pull it off," he says, adding that his wife, Anna, will now oversee the front of the house. "She has the best guest skills of anyone I know, and she's just an amazing front-of-house person, so she'll be running the front while I run the back."
In fact, most of the couple's family has been instrumental in building Amerigo, and Chisholm insists that's what he prefers. "This restaurant is a lot different from a lot of others, in that there are no big investors. I liken it to a mom-and-pop," he says, adding that this is a "homegrown, grassroots family business in a neighborhood that's becoming a more popular place for families to live."