Patsy’s Italian Restaurant in Denver, Colorado – Update 2016
PATSY’S IS PERMANENTLY CLOSED! More later. 9/1/2016
This is a quick, update post – Patsy’s has been reviewed before (there’s a link at the bottom of this post. Also there’s some new information on the wall-mural at Patsy’s)
Patsy’s Italian Restaurant
3651 Navajo Street
Denver, CO 80211
“With a history that spans more than 80 years, Patsy’s Italian Restaurant is Denver’s oldest Italian restaurant. Founded in 1921 by the Aiello family, Patsy’s has undergone a few changes over the years but the heart and soul of tradition have remained the same”
One thing that hasn’t remained the same is the food. I’m laying down my cards here, saying that the food is getting better, probably better than anytime in Patsy’s long history – not that I’ve been around for all of those years. I’ve been enjoying the pasta since the 60s. That was when businessmen in suits and ties, and secretaries with stiff hair would drive up from downtown Denver to lunch. So what’s new besides transplants moving into the Lower Highlands neighborhood and joining long-time locals who have been returning to the restaurant, week after week, since the days when Patsy’s was in the center of *Denver’s Little Italy?
It’s 2013, tons of sophisticated transplants are moving to the Lower Highlands and diners are generally becoming more hip to the nuances of restaurants/food. Someone at Patsy’s is doing a good job raising the bar. That would most probably be Ron Cito (a relative of Chubby Aiello, the original owner) and Kim Delancey, the current owners.
The homemade noodles and other traditional Italian dishes have always been good. The soups, salads and desserts, always good. The bar has always been impeccably vintage cool.
The food – though still based in tradition – has become more sophisticated. The marinara sauce has been jacked-up with garlic. Owner Ron Cito shared his secret of the great gastronomic flavor: he steams the garlic. Other food items are more subtly seasoned; and there are, in addition to standard old-school favorites, new creative dishes on the menu.
This, in my opinion, is Patsy’s signature dish: Homemade Spaghetti with meatball or sausage, served with soup or salad and bread ($10.75.)
The elegant Italian Fried (Ruby) Trout served with garlic cream spaghetti, soup or salad and bread ($13.75.)
What else is new? The restaurant itself is a time-capsule from the 1920s, definitely not new. The owners and staff are new. The service is generally good, sometimes it’s a notch above good, sometimes it’s excellent.
*In the late 1800s and the first half or so of the 1900s, the area in Denver between Broadway and Zuni Streets on the east and west and 46th and 32nd Avenues on the north and south was known as “Little Italy”. It was an area of Italian grocery stores and bakeries, community bread ovens, churches and schools; an area where a new wave of immigrants from all over Italy moved to and where they were comfortable and socially secure in this new country read more…
Regarding the mural on the north wall of Patsy’s, Kim Delancey told us that an itinerant artist traveling from New York painted it with two partners. One of the artists was an unidentified woman. According to Ms Delancey, the huge canvas was painted in the woman’s studio, then hung on Patsy’s wall. I’m doing research on the artists and will soon have more information; it’s pretty cool…
I’ve been waiting weeks for Kim Delancey to send the information, if it ever gets here I’ll update the following information. In the mean time, here’s the story I put together this summer.
From July, 2014
Before I go on, these are the facts that I have so far: Two mural projects were painted in the time-frame inclusive of the 1950s and the 1960s — one mural was painted at The Sink in Boulder, CO, the other at Patsy’s restaurant in Denver. The Sink’s mural(s) consist of a series of wall-paintings wrapping around several dining rooms. The Sink’s murals were painted in the early 50s. The other (smaller) mural was painted at Patsy’s Restaurant in the early-60s? Both murals are signed by someone named “Kavich.” The mural at Patsy’s also has a second signature, “Campero.” An official signature of Armando Campero seems to be a dead-match to the signature on Patsy’s mural. Both Kavich signatures seem to be reasonably matched given the long time span. There are similarities in the murals which may be attributed to Kavich’s participation in both. *Both murals include an interpretation of the scene “The Creation Of Man” by Michelangelo Buonarroti. At The Sink, the scene humorously displays the passing of a hamburger; at Patsy’s the scene is more traditional.
July 3rd, 2014 Here’s the new scoop. My limited, unofficial research seems to be revealing that the Patsy’s mural was painted by: Llloyd (3 Ls for the L of it) Kavich, one of the artists mentioned above. One of the two signatures on the mural is “Kavich” (see below.) The cool thing is that this is most-likely the same artist who painted the wrap-around wall / ceiling murals at Boulder’s iconic watering hole. The Sink’s murals were started in the 50s. “He first became part of The Sink’s 90-year history in 1952 when he and Mike Dormier painted the restaurant’s walls with brightly colored cartoonish scenes and figures” read more from Boulder’s Colorado Daily. Kavich has become somewhat of a famous muralist around Boulder due to his work at The Sink. Now deceased, Kavich did some touch-up work at The Sink in the late 80s, then moved on to California.
The second signature on Patsy’s mural, I believe, is of Mexican artist, Armando CAMPERO, a former student of the great muralist, Diego Rivera. “Armando Campero was born in Mexico and attended the San Carlos Academy of Fine Art in Mexico City, where one of his instructors was the legendary, Mexican-muralist Diego Rivera. He later received a scholarship to attend the Fine Arts School in Chicago and he also studied in New York and Paris. Returning to Mexico City in the early 1950s, he worked for two years on Diego Rivera’s Lerma Tunnel project and taught at the Institute of Interior Decorators. He came to Los Angeles in the mid-1960s and since then has divided his time between Los Angeles and Mexico. He was one of the first artists to paint murals in East Los Angeles and was a political cartoonist for 15 years for the Spanish language newspaper, La Opinión. In addition to his Los Angeles works, he has completed murals in Chicago, St. Louis, Spain, France, Mexico, and Guatemala.”
Read more from LA County Arts… Yes, Diego Rivera was married to that mustachioed, fiery Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo. I’m in the process of verifying that this is, in fact, Campero’s signature. I have no information about the woman who was involved with the creation of Patsy’s mural, but man, I’d love to hear her story.
When traveling through or staying in Palm Springs, California I’d walk the galleries, and on one of those eye-feasts, I stood just a few feet from a larger than life-size oil painting by Diego Rivera. The price tag was clearly marked, $1,000.000. Cool.
Here’s a pic of the signatures from the lower right side of Patsy’s mural. Can’t quite make out the scribble between the two names: 102? or /62? (meaning that the mural was executed in 1962?) or? Perhaps the upper-stroke is part of the “/62” date-stroke, meaning that the artist began the slash above his signature and finished it below – then adding the “62”. UPDATE July, 22, 2014 Question answered: Ron Cito, owner of Patsy’s confirmed that the mural was painted in 1962, done!
Campero /62 / Kavich
Since Campero’s signature is on top, I’m thinking that perhaps he was the lead-artist on this project. I mention this because Kavich was at first thought to be the principal artist.
Below is an official Llloyd Kavich signature from The Sink – dated June, 1989. 1989 is the year that Llloyd Kavich returned to The Sink to “touch-up” the existing boarded-over artwork – “the art was covered up with pine boards, patiently waiting for The Sink’s loyal patrons to demand its return. In 1989, at the urging of his sons, Kauvar “de-models” the deli and re-opens as The Sink. Llloyd and his sidekick, Streamline the Rat Dog, were once again pressed into service to restore the counterculture artwork which had come to define The Sink.” I snapped the pic July 13, 2014. Obviously he has added the L (Llloyd) and there’s an “ich” after Kavich (perhaps it’s added graffiti.)
The entire A is slanting right and the first leg of the A is tilting into the K – not as drastic as the Patsy’s mural / signature – but it is there. The “dot” above the ”i“ is a horizontal slash, good. The biggest discrepancy is the first “h” which is lower case rather than upper-case like the Patsy’s mural-signature. The Cs seem to have the same shape. There is a difference of 27 years between the two signatures. This is the only signature I was able to find at The Sink. I was hoping to find an earlier example. Maybe there’s another signature somewhere. I’ve not been able to find any Mike Dormier signatures on The Sinks walls.
The exact match of Kavich’s signatures is not really all that relevant here. Were there really two different guys painting wall-murals of a certain-style, and signing the work, Kavich?
Here’s a signature of Armando Campero from a charcoal sketching (from 2002?) called “Nude 2” which was recently offered for sale (click and scroll down.) Though not exact, it seems to be close enough to possibly be a match even though it’s missing the “hyphen”, especially since there may have been some time (40-years) having passed between the creation of the two works. I’m trying to contact someone from Campero’s camp to verify his participation in the project. Armando Campero is an important American muralist, one of the first Hispanic muralists in Los Angeles. This should be extremely important to the Denver Art community.
Both of the Campero signatures (I’ve seen others as well) have a number of consistent markers. In both of these signatures, the first four letters are uppercase; the first “C” and “A” are tied together; the “M” and “P” are upper case and stand alone; the “E” simply consists of three parallel lines; the “r” and “o” are lower case and tied together; the last “O” is closed. In my opinion this is a very strong match.
UPDATE July 17, 2014 “He lived and breathed art. Nothing else mattered. Cancer finally cleared his pallette[sic], but his art survives.” This article mentions Armando Campero’s death in 2012.
*Here’s a multiple-image, comparative-pic with Michelangelo’s original painting, “The Creation Of Man” (left), part of Patsy’s mural depicting “The Creation Of Man” by Armando Campero and Llloyd Kavich (middle); the style seems to be more Campero than Kavich, and one area of The Sink’s ceiling-mural depicting “The Creation Of Man – passing a hamburger” (right) by Llloyd Kavich and Mike Dormier – click to enlarge.
Michelangelo’s original (left), Campero and Kavich’s mural at Patsy’s (center), and The Sink’s ceiling-mural (right) by Llloyd Kavich and Mike Dormier – click to enlarge
Regarding the pictures above, the fact that this subject-matter is contained in both murals makes a strong statement in itself. The fact that the styles are so different is a strong argument that Campero painted much of Patsy’s mural. I for one, see Diego Rivera’s influence in Campero’s work.
This story/pics [ Copyright July, 2014 William Carbone ] All rights reserved.