Locanda del Borga

Locanda del Borgo
5575 East 3rd Avenue
Denver, CO 80220
303-388-0282

Locanda del Borgo

The long entrance with the bar and dining tables that lead to the larger dining room

With the influx of town centers and mixed-use neighborhoods, restaurants are the glue that binds communities together. The local eatery is where neighbors gather to unwind with a drink after work or to share a meal and catch up on neighborhood news.

No one understands this better than Giancarlo Macchiarella, executive chef and owner of Locanda del Borgo in the Crestmoor neighborhood of East Denver. Tucked between a dry cleaners, a deli and a beauty salon at 3rd and Holly Street, Locanda del Borgo is exactly what its name suggests: a bistro in the ‘hood. In Italy, a locanda is usually a family-run inn where travelers stop to eat. Borgo means neighborhood.

“This is the quintessential neighborhood place that fits my personality well,” said Macchiarella. “I like being tucked away in a little mall surrounded by beautiful homes. On any night, I know more than half the people in the dining room and nearly everyone at the bar. Some have become good friends.”

Bar Manager Angela Villa has been with Locanda since it opened in 2007. “After five years, we have about 70-80 percent regulars,” she said, while pouring me a glass of homemade Limoncello. “We’re called The Italian Cheers, ‘where everyone knows your name.’ “

That’s the way Macchiarella, a Sicilian native, likes it. At his former restaurants in L.A., South Beach and Aspen (Farfalla) and in Edwards (Tavolaccio), he enjoyed the same camaraderie with his customers.

Like those successful restaurants, Locanda’s cuisine is exquisitely Italian, from fine dining dishes to authentic thin-crust pizza. Ignoring trends, Macchiarella follows his own concept: creating good food with the least amount of fuss from the freshest ingredients. Quality over quantity. Three basic sauces—Bolognese, Marinara and Pesto—are all he needs to create his uncomplicated but elegant dishes. “In Italy, we make everything from scratch. How I’ve eaten all my life is how I want my customers to eat.”

Braciole

Braciole

Several of Locanda’s recipes come from his Sicilian family. Braciole is a braised-all-day flank steak stuffed with cheese, pine nuts and herbs. If you’re Italian, you know this dish. You’ll also remember Straccetti—flash-cooked thin slices of beef atop arugula sprinkled with Balsamic vinegar—and Cioppino, a spicy fish stew.

Minestrone Soup

Minestrone Soup

Soups and salads are divine. Both the lentil soup and minestrone are vegetarian with delicately subtle flavors. A surprise comes with every bite of the butter lettuce salad, and a light lemony dressing coats the Caesar.

Gnocchi made with Ricotta Cheese

Gnocchi made with Ricotta Cheese

A variety of pasta dishes includes gnocchi made with Ricotta cheese, giving them a silky soft consistency that blossom under Parmigiano cream sauce. Lasagna is a soft layered pillow that comes in both traditional meat style and a vegetarian variation with pistachio basil pesto sauce. Handmade ravioli also come in two versions: one filled with meat covered with a brandy wild mushroom cream sauce and the other stuffed with ricotta and spinach topped with sage cream sauce. There’s also Risotto of the Day, cooked to perfection.

Lasagna

Lasagna

Though some menu choices change with the seasons, certain popular items will never disappear: Colorado lamp chops, Misto Carne (steak, lamb chops and sausage), Branzino (whole striped bass prepared and served tableside) and Veal Scaloppine. All meat and fish entrees come with vegetables and potato variations.

Desserts are traditional Italian fare like Panna Cotta and Tiramisu—none too sweet or gooey. And, of course, homemade gelato. Wines are mostly Italian but not exclusively.

Neighbor or not, this contemporary Italian restaurant is worth a drive across town.

When You Go
Locanda del Borgo
5575 East 3rd Avenue
Denver, CO 80220
303-388-0282
http://www.locandadelborgo.com
Lunch: Tuesday-Friday, 11:30 am-2 pm
Dinner: Tuesday-Sunday, 5-10 p.m.
Closed Monday

Claudia Carbone wrote this piece.

Locanda del Borgo is a TrueItalianTable recomended authentic Italian restaurant.

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