Former Frasca Food and Wine pros will open Lower48 restaurant in Ballpark this fall
After prowling for more than a year to find the perfect space to open his first restaurant, Mario Nocifera, a former Frasca Food & Wine alum who commanded the front of the house at the nationally recognized Boulder restaurant for two years, finally dried the ink on a space last week at 2020 Lawrence Street, a mixed-use loft, restaurant and retail development just a bat's swing from Coors Field.
The 3,800-square-foot build out, which is scheduled for completion in early fall, will actually be run by two past Frasca pros: Nocifera and his executive chef and business partner Alex Figura, both of whom have incredibly impressive backgrounds that extend beyond Frasca: Nocifera worked at the Little Nell in Aspen, along with Frasca co-owner Bobby Stuckey (the two were housemates); Charles Nob Hill, a now-closed San Francisco restaurant that was owned by celeb chef Michael Mina; and the San Francisco Ritz-Carlton, where he was the manager and maître d' of the swanky hotel's restaurant. Nocifera is currently running the front of the house at Fruition. And Figura is no slouch either, having solidified his chops at Blue Hill at Stone Barns -- and Blue Hill Farm -- in Pocantico Hills, New York; Osteria and Verti in Philadelphia; and El Cellar de Can Roca, a three-star Michelin-rated restaurant in Spain.
"Alex and I met at Frasca, and his skill set is just amazing, plus we have a great chemistry and a very similar approach to the hospitality business. When we worked together at Frasca, it really made me realize that we saw to eye-to-eye," says Nocifera.
Together, the duo will open Lower48, a restaurant that obviously references the Lower 48 States. But the name, says Nocifera, pertains to more than just the generic term. He was reading Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food, a book by Paul Greenberg that explores the four primary fishes that dominate most restaurant menus: salmon, sea bass, cod, and tuna -- and the problem of overfishing -- and Greenberg, who
researches, among other things, salmon fishing in Alaska, continuously identifies the Lower 48 States within his text. "It's an important cultural book that everyone should read, and his references to the Lower 48 States resonated with me, and the name and concept came after reading the book," he explains.