Chef and co-owner Cindhura Reddy dishes on the South Indian flavors taking root on Spuntino’s seasonal Italian menu—in exciting plates such as Rocky Mountain elk tartare with toasted masala aïoli and spiced risotto with smoky, tomato-pickle-braised pork shoulder and pakora-fried shallots.

“I grew up in Cleveland, but I’m first-generation; my parents moved to New York City from Hyderabad [in South India] when they were in their early 20s. We ate Indian food every day, and cooking was a full family endeavor. My oldest sister and my dad are the best Indian cooks I know.

Elliot [Strathmann, Reddy’s spouse and Spuntino’s general manager and co-owner] and I closed Namkeen [in Zeppelin Station] about 10 months ago, but there are no regrets because it opened us up to working with [South Indian] ingredients at Spuntino. We’ve always taken a global approach in our menus anyway. There are so many fun ingredients and flavors in the world, why restrict yourself?

I don’t like the word fusion. America isn’t a melting pot, it’s a salad bowl; there are pockets of influence. I like thinking about Indian and Italian food that way instead of trying to fuse the two. I think we hint at it a little bit at Spuntino and maintain our neighborhood feel by keeping the food familiar. Elliot is playing with Ayurvedic botanicals and spices in his amari now, too. We’re having a good time.”

$$$$, 2639 W. 32nd Ave., 303-433-0949

Denise Mickelsen
Denise Mickelsen
Denise Mickelsen is 5280’s former food editor. She oversaw all of 5280’s food-related coverage from October 2016 to March 2021.