After countless lunches and dinners, tens of thousands of calories, and hours of careful deliberation and debate, our fourth annual ranking of the Denver area’s best restaurants is complete. Dig in for a comprehensive, of-the-moment snapshot of the local dining scene.
8 Luca D’Italia (last year 4)
The experience of dining at Luca plays out in chef-owner Frank Bonanno’s elegant Italian dishes, which contain just enough rusticity to not feel overstated. For several years, the kitchen was entrusted to chef de cuisine Hunter Pritchett, who ably melded his talent with Bonanno’s vision. When Pritchett left in January to take a job in Los Angeles, pasta chef Eric Cimino replaced him. Luca’s pastas remain as light and flawless as ever, but other areas of the menu need more precision: Some items are too salty; others could benefit from a bit more seasoning. A recent Arctic char dish, however, displayed Cimino’s sense of balance. The crispy-skinned fish arrived with beautifully cooked artichokes, cannellini and fava beans, and summer squash. One last note: The restrooms of a restaurant such as Luca need to be as expertly executed as the rest of the experience. An overhaul is long overdue. 711 Grant St., 303-832-6600, lucadenver.com