Alex Figura and Spencer White—both veterans of the now-shuttered Lower48 Kitchen and more recently, Black Eye Coffee Cap Hill—debuted Dio Mio, their pasta-focused fast-casual eatery, on November 15. Considering the fine dining backgrounds of both chefs, the highly finessed dishes emerging from this RiNo kitchen come as no surprise. The fast-casual service, however, is a bit more unexpected.
A fast-casual pasta restaurant isn’t a novel concept—hello, Noodles & Company—but Dio Mio has virtually nothing in common with that Denver-born chain other than the counter-service model. Dio Mio’s fresh, hand-made pastas are rooted in Italian inspiration. Cooked to a perfect al dente and accented with lush sauces (lamb ragù) and high-end goodies such as pancetta and bottarga, these noodles are so meticulously and beautifully presented that it seems incongruous to pull cutlery and disposable napkins from a tin in the middle of the table.
Spencer White says that the restaurant’s focus on food over service is intentional: “We wanted it to be casual and approachable for all. Alex and I wanted to eat (and serve) the same food we made at fine-dining restaurants without having the whole two-hour experience.” With its empty white walls and black accents, the sparsely adorned space underscores that thought—it’s certainly not the cozy sort of place where you’d settle in with a bottle of wine for hours on end—although a perfectly chewy bite of cavatelli or the silky sunchoke-ricotta filling inside their mezzaluna will make you want to.
While pasta is undoubtedly the high point of the meal at Dio Mio, apps like the octopus and potato spiedino and mozzarella in carrozza are also worth your time. And don’t ignore the basket of house-made sourdough and focaccia that a server will drop at your table. “Bread is a big passion of ours. It’s something we’d be doing at home if we weren’t baking bread daily here,” says White. Use the tender-crumbed breads to soak up every last drop of sauce from your pasta of choice.
On December 5, Dio Mio will begin lunch service. White says that the lunch will feature a consolidated version of the dinner menu, as well as a couple of Roman-style pizzas and flatbread-encased Italian sandwiches called piada.
3264 Larimer St., 303-562-1965
—Photo by Rachel Adams