Bolognese, the slow-cooked Italian meat sauce, offers cold-weather comfort. Here, four of our favorite versions.
At Gaetano’s, the Bolognese is old-school and traditional, and that’s what we like about it. Chef Daniel Ramirez relies upon a classic blend of ground beef and pork for a mixture that’s both hearty and rich. He adds fresh, peeled tomatoes and red wine from Montepulciano only after the mirepoix (onions, carrots, and celery) has cooked down. Once finished, the sauce is tossed with spaghetti noodles. Add liberal amounts of grated Parmesan at the table.
3760 Tejon St., 303-455-9852, gaetanositalian.com
At Panzano, chef Elise Wiggins opts for a robust rendition of Bolognese and subs “cinghiale” (wild boar) for more traditional ground meats. The sauce tops farro pappardelle—a dense pasta noodle—and is finished with shaved pecorino (a sheep’s milk cheese akin to Parmesan). The earthy notes in this ragu emphasize Tuscany’s influence on Wiggins’ cooking.
909 17th St., 303-296-3525, panzano-denver.com
Spuntino’s pappardelle with lamb Bolognese offers multidimensional flavor that can only come from a great deal of patience. Ground lamb is slowly browned and spiced with cumin, fennel seed, nutmeg, thyme, and chile flakes (hence the heat). Only then does executive chef John Broening add crushed San Marzano tomatoes, along with small amounts of cream, chicken stock, and white wine for depth. The result is rich and intense, yet bright.
2639 W. 32nd Ave., 303-433-0949, spuntinodenver.com
THE KITCHEN DENVER
The Kitchen’s take on Bolognese is served with short penne noodles—the perfect vessel for this hearty, stewlike sauce. Aromatic bay leaves and slivered garlic balance freshly ground nutmeg, while diced carrots, celery, and onions add vegetable crunch. Whatever sauce isn’t caught by the hollow noodles should be swept up with a thick slice of bread.
1530 16th St., 303-623-3127, thekitchencommunity.com