Eat your greens...It's game on in the battle of the downtown salads joints—here's how they stack up. First to dress up the lettuce was 212 Salad & Sandwich Co. at 1710 Sherman St., then came Green Fine Salad Co. at 1137 16th St. with a gourmet edge, and now, in May, the superfresh Mad Greens moves into 1600 Stout St. As far as we can tell, the differences between eateries are slight: 212's got marinated beets while Green's and Mad Greens' are roasted; Mad Greens dishes up mango where Green offers dried apricots and 212 mixes in coconut. The prices are structured differently but comparable (plan on spending about $8), and all three shops have garnered local awards for their tasty combos and huge portions. Mad Greens has a leg up on the competition by staying open on the weekends and with their "Suggest a Salad" contest (create a stellar combination and win a T-shirt and a $25 gift certificate). We're 100 percent behind the salad trend, we suspect we'll pick up our greens at the nearest location—wherever that may be. Check out the menus online: www.eat212.com ; www.greenfinesalad.com ; www.madgreens.com .
Taste of Torino...I could blame it on the Olympics, but I won't, the truth is I'm a freak for Italian cuisine. To wit: Recently I've been on a real bender, satiating my cravings with Pecorino cheese and too many bottles of Chianti Classico, plate after plate of flawless gnocchi, and piles of amaretti almond cookies. I dip those meringue-like treats—the same recipe that originated outside of Torino in 1850—into strong hot coffee or crumble them over as scoop of Gelazzi's lemon gelato. The Larimer Square gelateria handmakes 32 flavors each day, and, thankfully, sells my favorite amaretto cookies for $2 apiece. 1411 Larimer Square, 303-534-5056. To-do list...If you haven't made reservations for Valentine's Day dinner, well, you're probably out of luck, not to mention in the doghouse. Make up for it by securing a table during Beringer Denver Restaurant Week (February 25 to March 3). With reservations at Table 6, Brooks Steakhouse, Somethin' Else, or any of the 100-plus participating eateries, you'll come out on top, especially when dinner for two costs just $52.80 (or $26.40 for one). The second-annual culinary celebration is still a couple weeks away but space is filling up fast—we've got our eye on Restaurant Kevin Taylor, Solera, and Vesta Dipping Grill. www.denverrestaurantweek.com . —Amanda M. Faison, 5280 Food Editor