Rocky Mountain News


Dining briefs: Frank Bonanno

Published October 15, 2008 at 5:26 p.m.

Chef's choice

With a trio of remarkably successful restaurants - Mizuna, Luca D'Italia and Osteria Marco - under his toque, you'd think Frank Bonanno would slow down and savor his success. But you'd be wrong. Instead, Bonanno is adding to his restaurant kingdom later this year with the addition of Bones, an Asian-influenced restaurant that's taking hold in the former Sparrow Cafe space at 701 Grant St., just around the corner from Luca and a dive bar away from Mizuna.

"It's an evolving concept," says Bonanno, "but you can count on Asian noodles, steamed buns, an unbelievable wine and sake program, probably a sommelier and even roasted bone marrow."

The tiny, 10-seat spot, titled after Bonanno's childhood nickname, is not about making money, he insists, but about "having fun, serving cool food and creating a casual environment for the neighborhood." He also says Bones will be committed to carving "as many parts as I can from every animal that I serve."

While we're waiting for Bones to open, here's where the chef noshes when he's off the clock.

* Best crab: "The simplicity of the crab at New Saigon (630 S. Federal Blvd.) is irresistible. It's nothing more than Dungeness crab pan-roasted to a dark, nutty brown in butter, garlic, onions and a touch of cilantro, which really just makes the flavor of the crab pop."

* Best pizza: "Zamparelli's Italian Bistro (2770 Arapahoe Road, Lafayette) tosses an awesome pizza. The owner, Jimmy Zamparelli, grew up in the same New Jersey town that I did, and you always love the pizza you ate while growing up. The hand-tossed pies that come out of the oven are crispy with just the right amount of sauce and plenty of cheese. My favorite pie is the margarita, which is perfect in its simplicity with great mozzarella, fresh basil and a crust that's the ideal thickness."

* Best wine list: "Sommelier Bobby Stuckey at Frasca Food & Wine (1738 Pearl St., Boulder) is the real deal. He manages to be both unpretentious and a little glamorous at the same time, and the wine list at Frasca is reflective of his personality. It's approachable and thoughtful, and the way Bobby navigates the floor makes for a seamless evening of wine-accompanied food."

* Best posole: "La Cocinita (4935 W. 29th Ave.) is a gem in my own neighborhood. Their posole is just right: light, clean flavors, not too greasy and served with lime wedges, salt and tortillas. Our kids love it, too."

* Best beef tartare: "Bistro Vendome (1416 Larimer St.) serves a flawless take on the classic beef tartare. It's simply served with cornichons and toasted bread, and I always order it when I dine there."

* Best grilled cheese sandwich: "Steve Allee and Justin Brunson at Masterpiece Deli (1575 Central St.) have a real talent for making a tasty sandwich. I love the sandwich with Swiss, provolone, cheddar and applewood smoked bacon on sourdough. It's browned gently on the grill and served with just a touch of Dijon mustard."

* Best risotto: "Risotto isn't always on the menu at Six89 (689 Main St., Carbondale), because chef Mark Fisher Mark thoughtfully changes his menu monthly, but the last time I had his risotto, he had foraged for the mushrooms, found someone on the Western Slope to make the cheese and used herbs from the restaurant's garden to finish it. The end result was a beautiful dish with flavorful ingredients and perfect execution, which is rare for risotto."

* Best Vietnamese dish: "The mi quang at Delat (940 S. Federal Blvd.) is an amazing and well-balanced combination of egg noodles, light broth, quail eggs and pork, and their service is tight and friendly - even to children."

* Best sliders: "I love a pastrami sandwich, and the mini lamb Reuben sliders at Table 6 (609 Corona St.) really hit the spot for me. They're superbly composed with sauerkraut and caper aioli, loaded with flavor and the ideal size for an appetizer."

* Best Southern food: "Steve Jankousky and Tom Unterwagner at Tom's Home Cookin' (800 E. 26th Ave.) serve up huge portions of the best damn Southern fried food anywhere. They don't skimp on the salt and butter, two sides come with every order (and one of them is occasionally cobbler, for crying out loud) - and I still want more when I've finished. They serve the best macaroni and cheese I've ever had."

* Best desserts: "I love the unexpectedness of the desserts at Sushi Den (1487 S. Pearl St.). Michiko Kizaki makes a straightforward, simple, uncomplicated and fabulous banana cream pie, and her tiramisu is breathtaking. Despite the fact that she is Toshi's wife, the owner of Sushi Den, she rarely gets credit for the remarkable quality of her work, which is too often the case with wives of restaurateurs. Sushi restaurants often serve ice cream - red bean or green tea - for dessert, but Toshi has never stayed within the expected boundaries, and I'm sure he discovered long before I did how great Michiko's desserts are."

* Best pancakes: "Bar none, the best pancakes in the city are the ones at The Children's Hospital (13123 E. 16th Ave.). They have an industrial-size flat-top griddle that they grease with real butter. They don't overmix the batter so the cakes are never chewy and they use just the right amount of buttermilk so you never get a heavy gut-bomb."

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