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In Good Taste

Who makes Denver chef Frank Bonanno’s restaurants look so good? His better half, of course.

June 2014

Photo by Aaron Colussi

Sometimes the sweetest part of dining out is the eye candy, and thanks to the design work of Jacqueline Bonanno—the wife of local celebrity chef Frank Bonanno and the interior designer behind each of his restaurants—there’s a lot to ogle here in the Mile High City. The retro-chic tile entrance to Bones; the cowboy-meets-hipster vibe of Russell’s Smokehouse; the industrial exposed brick of Osteria Marco—they’re all Jacqueline’s doing.

The job fell to her out of necessity: When Frank opened Mizuna, his first restaurant, in 2001, budgets were tight. Although she had no formal training, Jacqueline did have a penchant for design, and she managed to strike a balance with casually sophisticated interiors. Today, she’s just finished work on Salt & Grinder, the Bonannos’ newest restaurant—a neighborhood deli in Highland (and the 11th restaurant from the duo). Design highlights include a library ladder and an oversize-diamond-patterned floor.

Her secret? “The flow and function come first,” she says. “Then we get to play with the details.” She admits to attaching sentiment to the names of paint colors. (Russell’s Smokehouse is painted in mouth-watering hues from Benjamin Moore: Louisiana Hot Sauce, Black Bean Soup, and Margarita.) She’s also prone to scouring the Web at 2 a.m. for found objects, such as the floor-to-ceiling shelving in Salt & Grinder, salvaged from a school in New York. “It’s those unexpected details that add warmth and charm and a feeling of comfort,” she says. It’s also the perfect recipe for good design.


Jacqueline Bonanno’s Three Favorite Finds

Step2

Wallpaper in Salt & Grinder’s restroom: Stag Head wallpaper in teal by Lisa Bliss (graduatecollection.co.uk)

Step2

Cherry red stove hood at Bones: by Mike Mancarella, a metal artist and owner of JunoWorks

Step2

Sliding doors made from stained-glass windows at Russell’s Smokehouse: found in a storage locker under Larimer Square