While I consider myself more of a carnivore than a vegetarian, I often order a veggie entree as a means of testing a restaurant’s depth. (Enough already with the uninspired grilled portobello or pasta with seasonal veggies.)

Shazz Cafe‘s savory cassoulet (made with butternut squash, cipollini onions, carrots, and wild mushrooms) and Fruition‘s ever-changing, two-course “Grazing Vegetarian” dish have both impressed me. But, a couple weeks ago, I also discovered a new staple in Black Pearl‘s risotto cake piccata.

Chef d’ cuisine Micah Watkins (who works under chef/co-owner Sean Huggard) quickly fries up a risotto cake, tops it with zesty preserved lemon, fried capers, and fresh arugula. A drizzle of brown-butter vinaigrette pulls the flavors together for a bright, simple, and satisfying combination. Try pairing this dish with a glass of the edgy Van Duzer Pinot Gris.

Shazz Cafe, 4262 Lowell Blvd., 303-477-1407; Fruition, 1313 E. Sixth Ave., 303-831-1962; Black Pearl, 1529 S. Pearl St., 303-777-0500

Amanda M. Faison
Amanda M. Faison
Freelance writer Amanda M. Faison spent 20 years at 5280 Magazine, 12 of those as Food Editor.