We Denverites certainly love our market halls, if their proliferation is any indication: In the past five years, Avanti Food & Beverage, the Source, Stanley Marketplace, the Denver Central Market, and Zeppelin Station have all opened, and more such aggregates are on the way.
But no other local hall consists of 16 stalls conceived and managed by one restaurant group, what Bonanno Concepts, with chef-owner Frank Bonanno at the helm, is doing as of June 1 when Milk Market opens inside the historic Dairy Block downtown. The ambitious endeavor will bring Bonanno’s Mile High City restaurant total to a whopping 26.
As incredible as it all sounds, an early walk through Milk Market with Bonanno and his wife, Jacqueline (creative director for Bonanno Concepts), revealed that the colorful hall is also incredibly well planned, stylish as hell, and truly does offer something for everyone.
Denver architects Davis Partnership worked with the Bonannos to design the market in a circular format that leads you from one stall to the next. Here’s a brief rundown of what you can expect:
Bonanno Brothers Pizzeria
Hand-stretched, artisanal pies will cook in a 750-degree Wood Stone oven large enough to accommodate 18 14-inch pizzas at one time. Vinegars, olive oils, and antipasto platters will be available to take home. Don’t miss: the on-tap negronis.
An extruder will push out all manner of pasta shapes, from cavatappi to orecchiette, and sauces will be on hand to take home, too. Or you can sit at Moo Bar (below) and crush a plate of noodles while watching the crowd.
Servers will float around this 60-seat watering hole/dining area to take orders for food and cocktails from a limited Moo Bar menu, or diners can grab something from any one of the other Milk Market stalls to enjoy in this part of the space, bathed in natural light from the corner windows looking out on Wazee and the Public Works signature light fixture hanging above.
Jacqueline wanted a personal touch in the decorative tile work around the Salt-and-Grinder inspired cured meat shop, so she recruited members of the restaurant group team to hand-penny the tiles; it took them four days. Cheese lovers will flock here for house-made Burrata, mozzarella stretched on the spot, chèvre, and more.
Flour. Eggs. Milk. Here, they come together as crepes with sweet or savory fillings.
The Green Huntsman
Under the glow of neon-green lighting fixtures made from recycled bottles, this stall offers DIY Chipotle-style salads with 11 dressings and 24 topping options. It’ll open early in the morning so you can grab a salad to go for your lunch. To drink: Shrubs and aguas frescas.
There’s a dry-aging refrigerator at this meat emporium, named for Jacqueline’s grandmother (a farmer during the Depression); prime steaks and other cuts will be on sale. Don’t miss the burger program, featuring a house blend of chuck, short rib, and brisket. Also, pastrami, corned beef, and a French dip will be on the menu.
Albina by the Sea
Frank’s Brooklyn grandma inspired the name for this seafood stall, where land-locked Denverites can score buckets of steamer clams, mussels, fish and chips, and plenty of fresh catch to take home.
The poke here will be simple, with just a few fish options utilizing scraps from Albina by the Sea, with two rice choices or a kale salad as the base.
Not only will this in-house wine shop offer 8 whites and 8 reds on tap, as well as carafes and growlerlike bottles for filling, but you can have tastes of just about any bottle in stock.
A stunning antique bar from the 1800s signals the entry to this Colorado-centric beer stall; Jacqueline found the stunning piece and the interior bar at a local shop. Pilot brews from Centennial State brands will flow on the 14-tap system.
Bao Chica Bao
For the fluffy stuffed steamed buns you’ve come to crave at Bones, Bonanno’s Governor’s Park restaurant, head here. BCB will sell pork belly, chicken, shrimp, mushroom, and tofu buns, as well as udon, ramen, and rice bowls. Bonus: There’s a walk-up window accessed from the Alley at the Dairy Block from which you can grab BCB’s fare to go.
This is another walk-up window on the alley, serving New York-style pizza by the slice.
Lou’s Hot and Naked
An ode to the now-closed Lou’s Food Bar, this all-chicken stall will be open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Red Bird poultry will be both fried and cooked via rotisserie, and you can dine in or take away sandwiches, pieces, or whole birds.
The gelateria sells its namesake frozen dessert and soft-serve in a stall outfitted with antique suitcases and locally designed color cord lighting. Boozy milkshakes are another highlight.
Last but not least is the stall that many Denverites will visit first for their a.m. coffee drinks and pastries. There’ll be quiches, coffee cakes, muffins, and the like, and Pablo’s Coffee beans will anchor the coffee program.
To access all of this deliciousness seamlessly, diners will be able to place online orders for food from any of the 16 concepts, picking up at the concierge desk at the main entrance. That option may not be available on June 1 when the doors open, but once the POS system is up and running, it marks yet another way Bonanno plans to make Milk Market indispensable for Denverites.
The Dairy Block, 1800 Wazee St., open as of June 1 from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily