The best Italian cooking is rooted in simplicity, elevating fresh ingredients without too much fussing. That’s much harder to achieve than it may sound—but chefs John Willis and Andrew Kirsch of Via Alba, a two-month-old private chef service, are doing just that.
As former chefs di cucina at Barolo Grill, Willis and Kirsch are familiar with executing good food (and wine). For Via Alba’s private chef services and pop-up events, the duo draw upon their kitchen experiences and the annual trips to Italy that the Barolo staff took together to create innovative pairings with true Italian spirit.
The pop-ups give Willis and Kirsch a venue and way to connect with Denver diners without the constraints of a regular restaurant menu. At a Via Alba dinner at the Truffle Table in early December, the meal featured five courses paired with Italian wines. One of the standouts, a creamy spinach risotto, was topped with a raw egg yolk, which, when stirred into the rice, added wonderful richness. It was a straightforward dish, but memorable. The meal ended on a high note, with a lemony Fruition Farms ricotta cheesecake offset by a sweet, lightly sparkling Moscato d’Asti from Piedmont.
You won’t want to miss Via Alba’s next pop up—this time a cocktail party—which takes place at Bistro Barbès on January 15. The meal will feature drinks by Jon Feuersanger (Beast & Bottle, Coperta) and 10 to 12 appetizers from Via Alba, including a delicious-sounding root vegetable bollito misto (a play on the meat-centric northern Italian stew). Willis and Kirsch plan to host at least one Via Alba pop-up event every month going forward.
January 15, 6-10 p.m.; Bistro Barbès, 5021 E. 28th Ave. Tickets are $85 per guest and can be purchased here.