New restaurants offer comfort food, authentic italian & baked goods

– By Emily Kemme –

 

Cooking for others continues to inspire chefs and bakers, who despite long hours, day-to-day business challenges and ongoing supply chain shortages, are opening new doors to offer patrons delicious drinks, memorable meals and relaxing experiences. 

Here’s a handful of new restaurant openings around NOCO to get into your regular rotation:

 

GREELEY

Pellegrini Cucina Italiana

Pellegrini Cucina Italiana

2400 17th Street

Three years after a fire burned through the roof at Carlo Pellegrini’s restaurant, he re-opened last September with a reimagined Italian market concept surrounded by refreshingly simple white walls and aged woodwork. Pellegrini’s wife, Jessica, repurposed undamaged architectural elements—like drilling holes into roof tiles and using them as clay sconces—that add vintage appeal.

Order from the fast-casual counter, including wine or beer, and select a table or take it to-go. Self-serve beer and cocktails on a draught system encourage lingering, while house-made pastas and Italian market goods can be purchased for easy home meals.

Should you stay, umami-rich Bolonese, a slow-cooked meat sauce ladled over house-made tagliatelle, Gamberi (shrimp) in creamy salsa rosa and appetizers like Fiori di Zucca (crisply fried zucchini flowers stuffed with fresh mozzarella) arrive hot at your table. Then spoon into dreamy Panna Cotta custard topped with fresh berries for a magical ending.

 

Austin’s American Grill

Austin’s American Grill

1100 8th Avenue

Greeley’s fans of Austin’s American Grill no longer have to travel to Fort Collins to get their fix of Austin’s comfort foods. 

The Greeley location opened in November with club-style decor and a team proud to show off their scratch kitchen. Look for favorites like rotisserie roast chicken, grilled bison meatloaf, iron skillet corn bread with green chilies and Verlasso cold-smoked salmon.

Salads don’t play second fiddle to burgers, steaks and pork ribs. Hearty entrée salads can be tailored to taste with choices of rotisserie chicken, grilled salmon, sweet and crunchy coconut shrimp or a tender bison steak. 

Austin’s bar program gets equal attention with house-designed craft cocktails and upgraded spirits from barrel programs with Colorado favorite Stranahan’s Single Malt Whiskey and Dobel 100% agave tequila.

Austin’s food is the kind of meal you want someone else to cook for you because you know it will be delicious. 

 

Fusco Pizza

Fusco Pizza

811 8th Street

Although Fusco Pizza is the new kid on 8th Street Plaza, taking over the former Right Coast Pizza space is a natural fit. For Greeley history buffs, breathe easy: the vintage Nelson’s sign still scrolls across the restaurant’s brick wall. 

The Fusco family has cooked for Greeley folks in various iterations since 2007, including catering for the Greeley Stampede and Philly cheesesteaks at the Arts Picnic.

Their square-style pizza is cooked in a pan, or “Grandma style,” co-owner Ben Fusco says. “Every grandma who immigrated across the ocean from Italy could cook a pan pizza.” 

The rich crust is crisped to golden brown with a soft middle. Pizza crust standard ingredients—oil, yeast, water and flour—get a gourmet twist with Redmond mineral salt for buttery flavor.

Look for salads with more upscale twists, including goat cheese, dried cherries and seasoned pecans. Fusco has a small beer list with a good sampling of local craft brews and large commercial brands, seasonal cocktails and an inviting atmosphere.

 

LOVELAND

Scalzotto Italian Restaurant

Scalzotto Italian Restaurant

530 North Cleveland Avenue 

After running 19 Mexican restaurants for 13 years in Vicenza, Italy, Tonia Scalzotto and husband Giancarlo sold everything and moved to Colorado, trading Mexican food in Italy for handmade pastas and scratch sauces in restaurants located in Broomfield, Westminster and Loveland.

Vicenza, a northern Italian textile and steel industrial center, owes its culinary scene to agrarian roots, making Scalzotto’s classic northern Italian menu a natural fit for Colorado.

The Loveland location’s decor is streamlined and contemporary with pops of sparkle from snow-burst chandeliers. Don’t miss the house speciality, purse-shaped ravioli infused with pear purée and rich mascarpone with cream sauce, diced Italian ham and drizzled honey. Chicken marsala offers a mound of mushrooms draped with rich, creamy marsala sauce with just enough sweet wine to remind you it’s there, served with mashed potatoes and a pile of broccolini. For dessert, how about a decadent trio of profiteroles, a puff pastry filled with custard cream, topped with chocolate sauce.

 

White Paper BBQ

White Paper BBQ

1480 Cascade Avenue, Unit 201

Texas-style barbecue is on the plate at this joint chef/owner Jim Rowan refers to as, “the barbecue in the middle of nowhere.”

It’s not exactly that, but the gray building housing 30-barrel Berthoud Brewing Co. and White Paper BBQ off U.S. 34 is easy to miss. Berthoud’s taproom offers an array of upscale bar foods, including smoked wings fried to finish and 10 gourmet pizzas. 

But as savvy business people know, choices are key to return customers. That’s why the brewery’s kitchen, allowing them to serve cocktails and wine, also secured Rowan’s barbecue chops. 

White Paper’s Texas-style reverse flow smoker is fueled by Texas oak, giving meat full-on smoke penetration so intense it lingers in the air. The brisket is pink-ringed, tender and loaded with flavor, as are pull-apart pork ribs with light rub elements and crisped fat. Fats and liquids that come off during the process are repurposed in lush collard greens; brisket juices and Berthoud Brewing’s Dunkel add heft to baked beans. The potato salad, loaded with chopped carrots, celery and parsley, is a good choice if you’re feeling veggie deficient. Creamy mashers studded with green chile round out why you should get acquainted with this secret on Loveland’s western edge.

 

FORT COLLINS

The Pig & The Plow

 

The Pig & The Plow

140 Boardwalk Drive

 After years of a daily commute to Denver, Erica Glaze jettisoned her Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforcement career, bought a 1963 Blodgett Pizza Deck Oven and plunged her hands into bread dough inside a shipping container her husband converted into a bread house. Five years later, after growing a following at local farmers markets and through online subscriptions, she opened a brick-and-mortar, The Pig & The Plow, in November.

She emphasizes organic Colorado whole grains and local sourcing, setting The Pig & The Plow apart from other bakeshops. Specialties include sheet pan style double-crusted slab pie, quiche and chicken potpie. Babci buns—brioche rolls stuffed with egg, sausage and cheese or gourmet beef and black pepper with béchamel sauce—are named for Glaze’s grandma, who taught her how to bake. 

Even with tantalizing combos like roasted carrots and whipped feta in an open-faced pie, Glaze believes her food is rustic.

The shop always has fresh bread, including sourdough, baguettes, Danish rye and artisan gluten-friendly pastries. Also look for Glaze’s baked goods at the FOCO Winter Farmers Market and Larimer County Farmers Market in Old Town in summer. 

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Emily Kemme is an award-winning novelist and Colorado food writer.