Olivéa never ceases to inspire me with its Mediterranean-slanted menu and its fresh take on flavor and texture. Take the semolina gnocchi alla romana with vegetable pistou—it's like no gnocchi you've ever tasted. Instead of potato, chef John Broening uses semolina flour to form these Italian dumplings. The result is more hushpuppy than traditional gnocchi, which can become gummy and dense. Dressed with a piquant vegetable pistou (essentially the French version of pesto), the entrée is both light and intriguing.
Bonus: Olivéa's pastry chef, Yasmin Lozada-Hissom, nabbed a semifinalist nod for outstanding pastry chef from the James Beard Foundation, the foodie equivalent of the Oscars. Don't miss her exquisite desserts: A favorite is the chocolate and fleur de sel caramel tart with milk-chocolate gelato and nougatine crunch—and it's on the menu for Denver Restaurant Week, February 26 to March 11.
719 E. 17th Ave., 303-861-5050