The food at Arugula emulates its namesake green––it’s light, healthy, and full of flavor. Executive chef and owner Alec Schuler, a New York native and son of European immigrants, assembles Arugula’s menu with culinary inspiration drawn from his nutrition-based training at Manhattan’s Natural Gourmet Cookery School as well has his many travels throughout the world. Schuler and his staff use natural meats, organic and seasonal produce from local vendors, and sustainably sourced fish and shellfish as the building blocks for their wholesome Italian dishes. Among them are housemade pastas and gnocchi, vegetarian and gluten-free entrees, and, of course, traditional seafood, pork, and beef.
Guests can enjoy Arugula’s full menu Wed. through Sun. at Amaro, the restaurant’s lounge. Flickering candlelight and wooden benches with throw pillows, ottomans, and low tables create an ambiance as laid-back and calm as a recliner shot with a tranquilizer dart. More than 190 wines by the bottle—22 by the glass—10 signature cocktails, and more than a dozen beers fuel Amaro’s lighthearted atmosphere indefinitely.
After spending years working for Dominos Pizza, Vince Schmuhl decided that he could do a better job of preparing and delivering quality pies to people's homes. He challenged the nationwide chain's dominance in the region by founding the first Blackjack Pizza on June 29, 1983.
Although delivering oven-fresh pies within 30 minutes was still a major goal for Schmuhl, he emphasized the importance of quality ingredients using sauce made from freshly packed tomatoes as well as hand-tossed dough that never sees the inside of a freezer or cryogenic chamber. This dedication to quality and speedy service allowed Blackjack Pizza to not only survive, but also thrive over the decades. The chain now includes more than 40 stores operating in four different states.
In addition to offering seven signature pies, Blackjack Pizza also allows customers to build their own order from crust to toppings. A choice of up to four savory, tangy, and piquant sauces form the base, topped with any of the 3 available cheeses, 7 meats, and 10 freshly diced vegetables. Regardless of the toppings, Blackjack Pizza respects the potential danger of food allergies by ensuring that none of its pies ever contain traces of MSG, peanuts, or peanut oil.
Chef Aaron Bennett and his culinary team combine the philosophies behind farm-to-table cooking with gourmet Italian dining at Bácaro Venetian Taverna. The menu features classic Venetian dishes made with fresh, seasonal ingredients sourced from local and organic farms, including Talbott Farms, Isabel Farms, and Haystack Mountain, among others. Panzanella salads season tomatoes and garlic croutons with basil-infused olive oil and wild boar shoulder gets braised in chianti before being served with creamy, truffle-infused polenta. The kitchen makes all of their pastas in-house, and gluten-free spaghetti or penne can be substituted for wheat-free diets.
Bácaro takes its name from the lively taverns around Venice, which are noted for their laid-back atmosphere, simple furniture, and affable ghosts. Bartenders fuel lively gatherings with pitchers of sangria, housemade Italian liqueurs, and selections from their extensive wine list during daily happy hours. The eatery also hosts guests on its spacious rooftop patio, where chandeliers and the fact that it is on a rooftop heighten views of downtown Boulder.
When pressed for his motivations behind HBurgerCo, managing partner Pete Pflum told a reporter from Dining Out, "It's my favorite meal from childhood," before adding that the burger is "accepted as a meal unto itself—especially when you're using the best meat, baked goods, and fixings." Housed in a sleek but familiar space designed by Robin Smith Designs, the head chef conjures inventive burgers, while soda jerks also harness the combined power of local spirits and liquid nitrogen to craft inventive cocktails and milk shakes. Patties hand-formed from locally-sourced Angus beef, lamb, turkey, veggies, and buffalo arrive at tables crowned with eclectic toppings including fried eggs and asian slaw, complimented by a create-your-own-salad menu. Draft brews pour into glasses cooled with liquid nitrogen, which prevents libations from getting warm and snowmen from getting bartending gigs.
A fountain gingerly gurgles at the center of Antica Roma's main dining room, whose exposed-brick walls and flower-adorned window edges recreate the atmosphere of an Italian piazza. Behind the picturesque scenes, chefs prepare authentic Italian dishes that complement the Old-World environs, drawing upon fresh ingredients from Antica Roma's own garden to whip up bowls of housemade minestrone and margherita pizzas. They adorn spaghetti with their own handcrafted meatballs, bake regular or multigrain penne with eggplant, and toss gluten-free fettuccine with tiger shrimp poached directly from Siegfried and Roy's underwater show.
Within the elegantly rustic digs or out on the veranda overlooking the Pearl Street Mall, diners can accompany classic Italian meals with an imported or domestic red or white vino from Antica Roma's award-winning wine list.
South Mouth Wings' proclaimed origin story of their wings involves a cave, a perilous quest, and a monstrous Memphis chicken graced with healing powers and the ability to produce untold herds of delicious chickens. Whether sourced from a mythic cave or a farm, however, once the chicken wings are back in Boulder they get doused in one of eight sauces or two dry rubs. Boulder Weekly's correspondent particularly enjoyed the mango habanero, but more sensitive taste buds can gravitate towards a golden honey or a sweet barbecue sauce. The kitchen team prepares four heat levels of classic wings, culminating in the blazing "You Better Not" that just dares diners to consume it, right after they get their tongue off that frozen pole.