Thursday, March 28, 2013

FOOD REVIEW: Panzano (Denver, CO)

Ciriole alla Bolognese 
(Fresh farro pasta with a classic Northern Italian ragu
made with smoked wild boar, shaved Grana Padano; $34)
Torta di Zucchero Marrone
(Brown sugar pound cake with walnuts soaked in a stout toffee sauce,
topped with vanilla gelato; $9)
Caesar Griglia 
(Grilled hearts of romaine, anchovies, garlic, parmesan; $9.5)
I attended the 16th Annual Conference on Research in Undergraduate Mathematics Education in Denver and while there I had dinner at a fantastic Italian restaurant called Panzano which I found using the Yelp iPad app.

Panzano's reviews seemed very impressive, and happily was located a short 5 minute walk from the hotel conference. Happily, the reality lived up to the hype/

We ordered Cavolini di Bruxelles (fried brussel sprouts tossed with apple cider reduction, pistachios, rosemary salt and sliced green apple; $10) on the advice of our waiter but they were so good (and we were so famished) that unfortunately I didn't get a picture of them. I'm usually not a fan of brussel sprouts at all, but these were frankly delicious, with none of the slightly sour aftertaste that  I associate with that vegetable.

After that we ordered the award-winning Grilled Caesar Salad (this is not a typo--it's not a grilled chicken caesar salad). It was definitely a unique experience; the reason why you have never heard of a grilled caesar salad before is that one doesn't usually grill lettuce because it becomes soggy. The salad was tasty and slightly warm but the limp lettuce is a acquired taste.

I often like ordering very simple dishes at fancy restaurants, just to see what they can do with a staple dish. With that in mind I ordered the Ciriole alla Bolognese, which is basically pasta with meat sauce. It was astoundingly good. The meat sauce was delightfully rich and flavorful (made from wild boar!) and the pasta was completely al dente and perfectly balanced by the sharp cheesiness of the Gran Padano.

Dessert was the Torta di Zucchero Marrone or brown sugar cake. It was a great way to finish a meal, with a lovely combination of different textures and flavors. It was sweet (toffee), crunchy (nuts), moist (pound cake) and refreshing (ice cream).

I would heartily recommend Panzano anytime you're in Denver!

Name: Panzano.
Location: 909 17th Street, Denver, CO 80202.
Contact: 303-296-3525.
Visit: February 22, 2013.

FOOD: A+. 

OVERALL: A/A- (3.92/4.0)

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