How does a restaurant come to be? That’s a question I always like to ask a chef-owner or a restaurateur when he or she is opening a place. That’s how you discover the details that lie at the heart of a place. (For example: Johnny Ballen hatched the Squeaky Bean over an Aperol spritzer in Italy, which is why the cheery Squeaky spritzer will likely always remain on the Bean’s otherwise highly crafted cocktail menu.)
And so, that’s the same question I asked Taylor Swallow when he first told me about the restaurant he’s opening this fall with fiancée Kajsa Gotlin and former Barolo Grill chef Brian Laird in Jefferson Park. The concept for Sarto’s evolved when Swallow and Gotlin were vacationing in Verona, Italy. In two and a half days, they visited the same osteria three times. On the last evening, while dining on cicchetti (the Italian version of small plates) and considering how a similar spot could work in Denver, the duo looked across the street and saw a “sarto” shop, which is Italian for “tailor.” The name and the concept—a casual, cicchetti-style place bolstered by a structured Italian menu—stuck.
But Swallow didn’t expect Sarto’s to come together for quite some time. Until, one day this winter, Gotlin stumbled upon the location—a vacant, window-wrapped space on the corner of 25th and Elliot. If you’re a believer in fate, you’ll like this next detail: The space was last recorded (in 1955) as a fabric shop.
The Verona-inspired restaurant will serve an ever-changing board of cicchetti, as well as a full menu. Laird will make his legendary pastas, and a wood-fired oven will anchor the open kitchen. Construction begins shortly, but Swallow and crew will preserve the integrity of the airy location by keeping the high ceilings and the double-hung windows (no garage doors here). “It will not be rustic,” Swallow says.
Two-thirds of the footprint (4,000-plus square feet) will be taken up by the restaurant. The last third will function as a market plied with Laird’s fresh pastas and grab-and-go items. The market will have a separate entrance, just down from 2914 Coffee along 25th Avenue. When Sarto’s opens in the fall, it will join the ranks of Sassafras and Corner House, along with longtime Jefferson Park staple La Loma.
2900 W. 25th Ave.
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