Reader: Make the Best Italian Restaurant competition really stiff -- add the Olive Garden!

cooking at il posto.jpg
Mark Manger
Cooking up traditional Italian cuisine in Il Posto's kitchen.
For the first time, we're doing our Best of Denver Readers' Poll voting in two rounds -- and last week, after we closed out the first round, we revealed the leading vote-getters. Some of the results were eye-opening (and wince-inducing). for example, the finalists for Best Italian Restaurant? Maggiano's, Gaetano's, Il Posto, Carmine's, Luca D'Italia.

See also:
- Best of Denver 2013 Readers' Poll: The Food & Drink Finalists
- Il Posto review: Andrea Frizzi's traditional trattoria has become a Colorado classic
- Chef and Tell with Daniel Ramirez of Gaetano's

Says mr2012:

Maggianos in the same category as Il Posto and Luca? Wow. Throw in the Olive Garden. Make the competition REALLY stiff. And what's with the steakhouses? The Keg, Ted's Montana Grill and Texas Roadhouse? I propose this be titled "The best AND WORST of Denver."

Just remember: For close to thirty years, McDonald's won our Best of Denver Readers' Poll for Best French Fries -- but one amazing year, a local beat out McD's. No reason a local trattoria can't beat out the chains for Best Italian Restaurant, or a Colorado cow palace make the cut for Best Steakhouse. So rally your friends and pic for your favorites on the list of Best of Denver finalists -- or just write in your own choices on our Best of Denver Readers' Poll here.

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Maggiano's is in the running because most non-food-obsessed people equate "Italian" with New York-style pasta and red sauce (spaghetti and meatballs, veal parm, etc.), and there aren't many of those that are any good in Denver.  I'd say Maggiano's actually does a credible job if that's what you're looking for, at least compared to most of the competition - go to Pasta Jay's (which is hugely popular) and you'll walk away wishing you'd gone to Maggiano's.  Il Posto and Luca are amazing, but bring your aunt who just wants a plate of spaghetti with meatballs and tiramasu and she'll walk away disappointed.

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