Dining Reviews

June 2007

Best Bites - Parisi’s Cartoccio di Coccoli
Unless you’ve spent a great deal of time in Florence, Italy, chances are you’ve never tasted cartoccio di coccoli. At Firenze a Tavola, Parisi’s downstairs restaurant specializing in Florentine cuisine, the popular build-your-own appetizer has become a menu staple. When the wooden platter arrives at the table, select a small square of fried dough from the paper cone, slather it with melted stracchino (a cow’s milk cheese), and top with a paper-thin slice of prosciutto. “The cheese is pretty mild in flavor and the meat is sweet—it’s one of the best combinations, especially when the dough is hot,” says owner Simone Parisi, who grew up in Florence. The combo is so delicious some customers have taken to ordering cartoccio di coccoli for dessert.

Though Parisi can source stracchino here in Denver, each week he imports a supply from Italy. “Because it’s a really creamy cheese, it’s hard to find it fresh. If you don’t have it fresh you lose part of the flavor.” Hint: Shipments usually arrive on Thursdays.
Parisi's Firenze a Tavola (downstairs at Parisi, open Thursday through Saturday nights, 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.) 4401 Tennyson St., 303-561-0234, www.parisidenver.com /

1. Sketch Food & Wine
By Carol W. Maybach
(out of 4 stars)
250 Steele St., 303-333-1763
The Draw
Top-notch waitstaff, a stacked wine list, and a daily menu served until 1 a.m.
The Drawback
Fish dishes can be disappointing and poorly executed.
Don't Miss
The beef carpaccio, seared duck breast and confit of leg, chicken pot pie, and lamb sirloin.
Vegetarian Options
Imported cheeses, tomato bruschetta, wild mushroom gratin with manchego, Caesar salad.

2. Back for More... Campo de Fiori
By Laurel Miller
(out of 4 stars)
300 Fillmore St., 303-377-7887
Must-Try New Dishes
Filetto di Bue (grilled tenderloin with fig sambuca and roasted red pepper, basil sauce, and Italian succotash-hash).
Old Favorites
Carpaccio di bresaola, agnolotti di zucca.
In 2001, 5280 restaurant critic Lori Midson wrote that Campo de Fiori in Cherry Creek North was a place “where the hipsters come to see and be seen, to look like gods and goddesses,” but noted that the food beneath the glamorous trappings (and clamorous dining room) was quite good. Run by Luigi Giordano and Elizabeth Plotke-Giordani, Campo was a place where the kitchen prepared food passionately and the customers were treated with trust and respect. Midson also rated the waitstaff—so full of energy and aiming to please—one of Denver’s best.

Now, nearly six years later, Chef Jorma Cox runs the kitchen (and has since October 2003) and Campo has recently partnered with local philanthropist and man-about-town Josh Hanfling. The restaurant promises Hanfling will have a hands-on role, speaking with customers, working the room, and bringing in new clientele. We returned to Campo to see if the menu is as good as it once was and to find out how Hanfling has affected the restaurant’s atmosphere.
Strolling down the steps to Campo de Fiori, it felt like we were entering our own private nook, with glowing party lights and a warm, earthy interior. General Manager Brian Johnson pleasantly greeted us in Italian and ushered us to our table.

Surrounded by diners clad in power suits and sophisticated dresses, we looked over a menu obviously inspired by the owners’ and chef’s experiences in Italy. Locally, Chef Cox has worked at Pulcinella in Fort Collins and Tortugas, but he’s spent a great deal of time in Italy, where he worked and trained at the famous Quattro Passi on the Amalfi Coast and a seafood restaurant called Maestrale on the island of Procida. Cox also spent time as a wine steward at Convinum in Positano... (Continued)