For 12 years, chef Elise Wiggins has been helming the kitchen at Panzano inside the Hotel Monaco. But the Louisiana-born chef is finally striking out on her own with Cattivella, her very first solo venture.

The wood-fire-focused Italian spot is slated to open in Stapleton in mid-November. While Wiggins has dreamed of opening her own place for years, she waited patiently until she was able to secure a 100-percent loan from a local bank, meaning that she has exclusive ownership of Cattivella and complete control over every detail—a rarity in the restaurant world.

Cattivella (which roughly translates from Italian to “naughty”) will be located in Stapleton’s Eastbridge development, next to an outpost of The Kitchen Next Door and projects from chefs Troy Guard and Lon Symensma. Not only is Wiggins a Stapleton resident herself, she recognizes that there’s a huge demand in the community for a wider variety of restaurants. “All the rest of the chefs are doing it—they get it,” she says.

Wiggins has taken a few cues from Panzano in the design of Cattivella, which is anchored by a 26-seat display kitchen where guests can watch blistered pizzas emerging from the wood-fired oven and sheets of fresh pasta being cranked out. “Clients at Panzano love to interact with the kitchen. So the entire restaurant will be completely exposed,” says Wiggins.

And while Cattivella’s cuisine might hail from the same country, diners can expect a bit of a departure from Wiggins’ menus at Panzano. “The hotel requirements sort of tie your hand,” says Wiggins. “Rather than focus on one region, this is my homage to slow food Italian and historic cooking with wood.” Most menu items will spend time in the wood oven, whether it’s the daily bruschetta or a large-format bistecca alla Fiorentina.

Wiggins envisions the upscale-yet-approachable space to be ideal for both date nights and for families looking to grab a shareable meal for takeout—think family-style portions of roasted chicken and sides like rosemary potatoes and roasted mushrooms—any night of the week.

Callie Sumlin
Callie Sumlin
Callie Sumlin is a writer living in Westminster, and has been covering food and sustainability in the Centennial State for more than five years.