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Ciccioli from Cattivella. Photo by Sarah Boyum

Best Bites: Cattivella’s Ciccioli

Chef Elise Wiggins brings an addictively porky snack to town.


There’s a glut of glorious Italian joints in Denver right now, including Elise Wiggins’ four-month-old Cattivella. But Wiggins isn’t one to follow the crowd, so while she does a marvelous job with wood-fired fare, she’s also brought us a little slice—well, slices—of Italy that you won’t find elsewhere. The dish is called “ciccioli,” a scrumptious antipasto that’s like the love child of porky chicharrónes and crunchy potato chips. Wiggins discovered the snack in Bologna in the late 1990s when she happened upon a ciccioli street festival. “Everyone makes their ciccioli a little differently,” Wiggins says. At Cattivella, she fries sliced pork scraps left over after her team butchers Duroc hogs from McDonald Family Farm near Fort Collins. When the morsels are crisp and rendered, she seasons them with bay leaf, rosemary, ground fennel, salt, and white pepper. The resulting baconlike chips aren’t greasy and shatter just so. The ciccioli is served (as any salty, habit-forming bite should be) with a dipping sauce—in this case, spicy tomato. 10195 E. 29th Drive, Suite 110, 303-645-3779  

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