Chef Frank Bonanno's struggles with the Denver Department of Environmental Health over house-cured meats have been well documented. But it appears that the chef and his wife Jacqueline, who own Luca d'Italia, Mizuna, Bones, Osteria Marco, Lou's Food Bar, Russell's Smokehouse, Wednesday Pie, Green Russell, and Vesper Lounge, have made good by the department. "Our HCAAP plan [Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points to ensure food safety] was approved a few weeks back," says Jacqueline. "That means we can legally serve our house-cured meats. Luca is the only [Denver] restaurant approved for salumi making."
This is a big deal for the Bonannos, who have been intent on serving house-cured meats since the restaurant opened 10 years ago. Several times along the way, the city has snuffed their curing operations (including when I was reporting this story) and has turned down their various HCAAP plans. "We were doing it anyway, and they (rightfully) shut us down," Jacqueline says. "We had angry meetings with the health department and [lead inspector] Danika Lee got the FDA involved."
The final outcome is a HCAAP plan that meets FDA guidelines. "It's specific to Luca," Jacqueline explains. "But we're hoping we can, at some point, transfer this to Lou's." There's also hope that, down the road, the Bonannos will be able to procure a retail license so that Luca can sell its product to other Bonanno concept restaurants. In the meantime, Jacqueline is simply pleased to have the salumi (pictured) back in place "My office smells good again—it smells like China Town."
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