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Arugula Ristorante's ricotta gnocchi —Photo by Carol W. Maybach

Arugula Ristorante’s Big Shift

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In the biggest change since opening Arugula Ristorante in 2009, Boulder chef and proprietor Alec Schuler has completely revamped the northern Italian menu. Known for his unwavering commitment to local proteins and produce, Schuler has doubled down on his locavore philosophy: He now creates entirely new menus at least twice a week. Diners enjoy Schuler’s fresh interpretations every Tuesday and Friday, and, if special produce arrives from the nearby gardens, on the evenings in between.

Since May 12, the à la minute menus have featured dishes such as a seasonal take on handmade ricotta gnocchi. One evening the inspiration included braised local rabbit (thanks to animals raised by a Longmont high school student) enhanced by plump blackberries, radish, baby spinach, fresh herbs, and Turtle Springs oyster mushrooms. Later that week, the dumplings (pictured) were crowned with a handful of local mustard greens mixed with lemon zest, pea shoots from Dancing Bird Gardens, as well as a diced fresh salsa primavera with peas, carrots, turnips, radish, and red peppers from Red Wagon Organic Farm and Oxford Gardens. A warm brown butter sauce seamlessly tied the flavors together. Schuler’s mission is this: Create fresh, of-the-moment, inspired dishes. I’d say he’s succeeded.

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Tip: Schuler now offers Paleo options alongside the long-standing gluten-free choices. The new variety adds weight to the chef’s commitment to offer a personalized, healthy menu for every diner.

2785 Iris Ave., Boulder, 303-443-5100

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