When I think about Cattivella, chef-owner Elise Wiggins’ restaurant hymn to the generosity and warmth of Italian cuisine and hospitality, I smile. Sometimes I nod, too. And that’s illustrative of the welcome you’ll receive when you get to Cattivella, and the feeling you’ll leave with after exploring Italy through the cooking of Wiggins, a self-professed “mischievous little girl” (which is what “cattivella” means in Italian). She brings new, sometimes daring, dishes to the table, such as crisp ciccioli (seasoned, fried pork scraps that give chicharrónes serious competition), focaccia di Recco (a thin, crisp calzone of sorts with prosciutto, Crescenza cheese, and arugula, served with aged balsamic vinegar for dabbing on top), and buttery cannellini beans (cooked overnight with sage and garlic in a glass flask atop the wood-fire grill). The pizzas are sublime; the pastas are simple and delicious; the steaks are dry-aged in-house. Though the room may get loud, the effect is genial and lively, just like Cattivella. Eastbridge Town Center, 10195 E. 29th Drive, Suite 110, 303-645-3779

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.