Italian To Die For!

August 20, 2010 at 9:40 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

8-20-2010

Italian to Die for! That’s the slogan for Gaetano’s restaurant in Northwest Denver.  If you are a fan of the former HBO show The Soprano’s, the Godfather movies, or Al Pacino in Scarface, you’ll love the feel of this local treasure.  Opened by the Smaldone family in 1934, Gaetano’s still serves authentic northern Italian cuisine.  My husband and I had the pleasure of sharing a wine dinner at Gaetano’s with friends/former clients Ron & Deanna Robinson this week.  (See previous post about the fabulous food and wine.) Ron is the General Manager of the Wynkoop Brewery, one of the six restaurants which includes Gaetano’s owned by the Wynkoop family of restaurants; 

Pushing your way through the heavy bullet proof front door into the dark, moody bar/restaurant is like taking a step back in time.  You can just about imagine how the Feds used to photograph everyone who stopped by to see ‘Flip Flop’ Smaldone and his brothers ‘Chauncey’ & ‘Checkers.’  It was said the Smaldone’s were the bosses of a thriving mafia operation.  There was a large gambling operation and if you needed a loan, you could head downstairs to the Smaldone’s office and borrow from one of the brothers.  But if you didn’t pay your debts, rumor has it there was a meat saw down there that was used to TAKE what you owed them.  The story is that your family would be told you moved to Pueblo when in fact the pieces were fed to the hogs on the pig farms in Pueblo so no evidence remained!

It is great fun to surmise what kind of things went on within the walls of this restaurant during the Smaldone crime family’s days.  It is even more fun to enjoy the great food now put out by the current owners, the Wynkoop Family of Restaurants.  They have done a great job of keeping the spirit of Gaetano’s alive. 

Starting Friday night September 10, 2010 you can enjoy Gaetano’s and another legend of the past.  Frank Sinatra impersonator, Derek Evilsizor performs every other Friday night and it is said his show is a “must see.” 

You can bet I will be there sitting with ‘Strangers in the Night‘ hoping there is still a ‘Summer Wind.’  Why don’t you “Come Fly with Me” on September 10th and enjoy Italian to die for at Gaetano’s.

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A Denver day of good food and good company!

August 20, 2010 at 9:23 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Tempranillo varietal wine bottle and glass, sh...

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–August 19, 2010

What does your perfect day look?  Good food? Good Books? Good friends? Good wine? Family?  Well today I was blessed to have all of those things. I started out the morning with a very fun client/friend looking for a property in a central Denver neighborhood under $200,000.  Now, let me tell you, when you get below $200,000 you never know what you are going to find. So we had a few giggles along with some surprises.  We found one place that was absolutely fabulous inside and horrible outside and one place that was cute outside and horrible inside. Suffice it to say, the search continues for her next home.

I took her on a tour of the changing streetscape along historic Colfax Avenue.  She hasn’t been around that area for decades and was surprised to see how nice much of it looked.  We browsed at Antiques Etc. on Colfax in the Mayfair neighborhood.   We continued on further west so I could show her where the Tattered Cover Independent Bookstore had relocated.  We enjoyed a fabulous lunch at the on site restaurant, Encore on Colfax.  I selected the pulled chicken salad sandwich and Mary, my client/friend had the recommended BLT.  We both thoroughly enjoyed the food.  I mean, it was just a sandwich and fries and a Diet Coke (of course) but it was GOOD, really good!  We followed it up with a trip through the bookstore where, my client/friend, Mary declared that although it is no longer in Cherry Creek North, it is still the same old Tattered Cover she always loved.  She likes the comfy chairs and author’s gallery, the knowledgable staff and great selection.  Since she is a published author, her opinion carries a little more weight than the average Joe or Jill!  She is currently working on a new novel. Can’t wait to read it.  We stopped by the shelf marked ‘Future Best Sellers’ to envision where her novel will go.

Later in the afternoon I was able to spend time doing my favorite thing, hanging with my boys.  They just started school this week and are excited by their new teachers and classes and seeing old friends. Any day I get to spend time with them is a good day. My oldest is a freshman at Arapahoe High School in Littleton and my youngest is at Euclid Middle School.  I know that in a blink of an eye they will both be away at college and afternoons with them will be rare.  I treasure every minute I get with them now. Even when they are acting like typical teenagers!

The evening brought more pleasure.  My husband and I were invited to a wine dinner at Gaetano’s in NW Denver with friends and former clients (sold two of their houses and helped them buy one) Ron & Deanna Robinson.  Any evening with them is sure to bring lots of laughs and a good time.  And this was no exception.  Ron is the General Manager of the Wynkoop Brewery one of the other 6 restaurants owned by the same group that owns Gaetano’s.  The wine dinner is something held at Gaetano’s every few months and I highly recommend you put the next one on your calendar so you don’t miss it. It is scheduled for October 14th. 

Mario Scanu from Sardania, Italy was the wine host for our event and he and the excellent chefs at Gaetano’s, Ronda Banks and Sal Calo, paired the perfect wine with inspired dishes.  We started the evening with a chilled Italian White Gazpacho with Tiefenbrunner Pinot Grigio 2009. This soup was great.  I loved it.  It was a great texture and was served with a crunchy fresh vegetable crostini that was perfection.  Some thought the cold soup was too hot, as in spicy.  But I like a little bite in my food and I thought it was all perfect.

The pasta course really won me over.  I love me some risotto.  This was a green onion and tomato risotto  with a red wine reduction  paired with Zenato Valpolicella 2007.  Unfortunately, much as I adored the risotto, I disliked the wine.  No explanation.  Just didn’t like it. The others at my table didn’t favor it either I’m afraid. But I did hear others around us praising it. 

Then it was on the main event! The entrée’ was pan-seared fennel dusted Alaskan Halibut with sweet corn puree, basil vinaigrette and tomato chutney. The chefs told us all items (except the Alaskan Halibut, of course) were locally grown. This course, it was the wine I liked and not the dish.  Full disclosure, I just don’t like fish, at all. But my friend, Deanna, loves fish and raved about this dish. The wine on the other hand was excellent. All of us loved the wine. What does that say about us?  Yes, they paired the fish with red wine.  They were obviously feeling rebellious when they selected the Poggio al Tesoro Meditera (Syrah, Merlot.)  It went great with the tomato chutney(which I did like) 

Who doesn’t like dessert?  I practically licked the plate!  The white peach tart tatin was the perfect ending to a great meal.  I ate every last bite and drank every last drop of the Coppo Moscato d’Asti 2008 – Piemonte. There is nothing like Colorado Peaches. Mmmmm…  I’m making you hungry aren’t I?  Don’t forget, the next Wine Dinner at Gaetano’s is on October 14th, 2010.  Bring good friends.  It will be an evening to remember. Or not remember, if you drink too much wine. 😉

p.s More about the history of Gaetano’s in my next blog!  Don’t miss it.  It’s truly a Denver treasure!

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“Ahhh mom, why do we have to walk to get lunch?”

June 8, 2009 at 1:30 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , )

It is the first week since school let out and let the whining begin!  “I’m hungry.” “Can I have a friend over to hang out? ” “When can we go to the pool?” I know children are inquisitive but its amazing how they only hear the answers they want to hear and otherwise they just keep asking, hoping they will get a different answer!  Or is it just my two boys who are so persistant?

We are blessed to live in one of Denver’s best family neighborhoods.  Some call it Observatory Park or University Park ,but technically, my street, south Jackson Street between Iliff and Yale, is part of University Gardens and is, in my mind, a little piece of paradise in the city. It is a tree-lined stretch of street with no cut through side strees covered with homes on large lots.  There are no sidewalks, but in the early summer we have rows of orange poppies and in the heat of August, the huge trees give a welcome respite from the heat. So it is a popular street for walkers, runners and bikers. The weather always seems better here than anywhere else in the metro area. We are just 10 minutes from Downtown Denver, 10 minutes to the Denver Tech Center and right near the University of Denver. I truly believe it is a slice of heavan on earth!

I was working from home  with my sons, who are now out of school for the summer, hanging out with me. I thought it would do us all good to take a break at lunch and go for a walk.  Pulling an eleven year old away from video games and a 13 year old away from whatever project he was building in the garage is not an easy task to start with, but to go for a walk to a new local restaurant was really a challenge!  They couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t just drive ‘thru’ and bring it home!

We left the suburbs because everything was all about driving- even though we didn’t have to drive far in my old Littleton neighborhood of Southbridge, there really wasn’t a ‘walk to’ restaurant near us so we always drove, everywhere, to everything. I love living where you can walk to things.  The University neighborhood Walk Score is 75,. From my house on S. Jackson St. it is 86!  Have you checked out your Walk Score.  It is a great tool to see where things are located near an address.  Type in the address and it lets you know how close important things are like restaurants, grocery stores, schools, parks, bars, the library etc.  The scoring goes to 100.  Enter your address and see how your home scores. 

Does the 86 impress my sons?  No, but their Grandma happened to come by so she joined us on our 6 block walk to the new Pei Wei Asian Diner  off of Colorado and Buchtel Boulevard and all were impressed with the food!  One way to speak to adolescent boys is through their stomachs!  The quick stroll allowed us to enjoy one of Denver’s fabulous sunny days.  It also gave my oldest a chance to once AGAIN make an argument about why he should be allowed to adopt snakes and for me to see it had been too long since breakfast for my youngest!  That is where the whining came in! 

Full after eating Pei Wei

Full after eating Pei Wei

 It was a tasty lunch.  My boys wolfed that food down so fast there was hardly time for the steam to dissipate from the dish.  Even better, Grandma picked up the check!  It was a nice inter-generational activity for all of us.  Pei Wei opened quietly in April  at this location, but seems busy everytime I have driven by. Its always good to have new development in a neighborhood and we wish them well.

On the walk home, everyone was in a much better mood, (amazing what a full stomach will do for your attitude.) Not one of us whined! I was thrilled, not just because I loved my sesame chicken, but because, for me that is what life is about,  living in a neighborhood where you can walk to what you need, on a block with fabulous neighbors surrounded by the beauty of nature. It was fun to catch up with Grandma and even more fun to spend the time with my boys. So  a short walk, a little lunch and the whining was gone!  I couldn’t have done that in my old home in the suburbs, that’s for sure. Your home needs to function to fit your life, the neighborhood needs to meet your needs.  If it doesn’t, now is a great time to find one that does!  Rates are incredilby low. Denver is touted as having made the turn around.  I provide the 5 Star Advantage  you need to help you find the area that fits your lifestyle as well as one that is most likely to improve in value! Who knows, it maybe just a short walk away!I promise to keep the whining to a minium.

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