Local foodie Brett Shaheen got his start as a sous chef at Sambuca, then took at spot as chef de cuisine at local eatery Luca d'Italia before becoming executive chef at Osteria Marco. His business partner, Jane Duncan Knauf, followed a similar career trajectory, starting out as a server, then quickly blossoming into a general manager of Sambuca and director of food and beverage for The Magnolia, a downtown boutique hotel.
Their backgrounds help shape The Wooden Table into a classy Italian restaurant that combines attentive—not to mention friendly—service with a mouth-watering menu. And it's gotten them noticed, too—The Denver Post is just one outlet to herald their specialness as a suburban dining destination. What exactly do they offer? For starters, the Italian sausage is made in-house, and the hefty beef tenderloin entree is allowed to age for three weeks before chefs cook it. Elsewhere, team's beverage mixers invite diners to wash down entrees with wine or a specialty cocktail, such as the lavender lemon drop or the walnut Manhattan, made with walnut liqueur imported from the iconic waterfall in Times Square.
Old World classics harmonize in the culinary symphony of Sansone's menu. Appetizers include caramelized-peach and maple-walnut compote crested atop Brie (served with crackers, $9), sautéed and egg-battered artichoke hearts ($10), and beef carpaccio ($9). Dinner entrees are served with choice of soup or salad and are accompanied by starch and veggies. Vegetarian dishes range from the light angel hair Provençal ($17) with wilted greens, kalamata olives, and toasted pine nuts, to the decadent stuffed eggplant ($18) with roasted-pepper risotto. Sansone's serves a variety of meat, poultry, and seafood dishes and has a gluten-free menu. The breaded and pan-fried Wiener schnitzel ($23/$18 for small plate) was a Rocky Mountain News best-of winner in 2007. The salmon Nilla ($23/$18 for small plate), a flaky fillet coated in Nilla Wafers, is sure to intrigue fish enthusiasts or spark cookie conversations that become plots to murder gingerbread men.
Steve Lin, owner of Land of Sushi, opens up shipments of fresh fish and live scallops every day in the kitchen. Behind the restaurant’s sushi bar, the chefs encase seafood morsels in specialty rolls such as the mango roll with spicy tuna and the uni roll with fresh sea urchin, creations that led to their being named Best Sushi Restaurant by Denver Westword in 2012 and 2013. Non-sushi dishes include 9-ounce new york strip steaks with teriyaki sauce and Alaskan halibut with miso glaze.
Rice Bistro & Sushi's kitchen overflows with cookware that steams and simmers dishes of pan-fried basil beef, pots of rice noodles for pad thai, and golden portions of peking duck. Outside the kitchen, sushi chefs behind the sushi bar craft specialty fresh sushi and sashimi; the combination of Chinese, Japanese, and Thai earned the restaurant a nomination for Best Asian Fusion in ABC 7's 2011 Denver A-List. Despite the traditional recipes, chefs are conscious of modern dietary restrictions and never add MSG, peanut oil, or sulfuric acid to their meals. Items such as basil lobster and scallops can be prepared gluten-free upon request. Diners sip on imported Japanese sodas, teas, or an array of more than 130 different wines to accent bites of tempura lobster rolls, along with 10 varieties of hot and cold sake and specialty saketinis from the full bar.
In the midst of bright oranges and purple and a mural of the Denver skyline, an insignia of five stars hangs displayed on Five Star Burgers' walls. Though the eatery's recipes have spread to Missouri and Colorado, they each draw from the southwestern flavors of the restaurant's hometown of Taos, New Mexico. At the Denver locations, chefs build burgers and sandwiches using local Durham Ranch bison, local chickens, and natural steroid- and antibiotic-free beef from Harris Ranch when possible. They offset meaty offerings with vegetarian salads, veggie burgers, and portobello sandwiches. At a full bar, bartenders stir specialty cocktails or pour pint glasses of local craft beer. The restaurant staff's commitment to sustainable practices also extends to packaging and utensils: the carryout packages are made from recycled biodegradable paper, and the drinking cups are fashioned from recycled plastic by elves recycled from Christmas.
The Dusty Boot Steakhouse & Saloon welcomes hungry guests to dig into burgers, steaks, and Mexican-inspired specialties. In the dining room, more than a dozen TVs tune in to games as diners sip tequila, margaritas, and other drinks. Meanwhile, the chefs wrap filet mignon in bacon, slow-cook slabs of pork ribs in tangy barbecue sauce, and garnish fish tacos with fresh cilantro. Diners not in the mood to build their own burgers can pick one of the specialty burgers, which include a breakfast burger with bacon, cheddar, and a fried egg, and the Fatty melt—a burger, sautéed mushrooms, and onions between two grilled-cheese sandwiches.
On the weekends, the Dusty Boots' staff wakes up early to the sound of their rooster's idiotic radio show and cooks up breakfasts of three-egg omelets and latke reubens, which include two potato pancakes smothered in corned beef, sauerkraut, thousand-island dressing, and melted swiss.
The circular-comestibles chefs at Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakers master a cheer-inducing combination of stone-baked pizza and craft beer, providing diners with innovative menus. Both Denver and Centennial menus feature a house special pie ($13.95–$27.95) that arranges bites of mozzarella, pepperoni, sausage, ground beef, ham, smoked backon, and a variety of vegetables across a doughy bed cushioned with fresh red sauce, and a gourmet kosmic karma pizza ($13–$25.95), which stars often-understudying ingredients including feta, spinach, and sun-dried tomatoes with a dash of pesto. The restaurant's repertoire of grilled hoagies includes Denver’s pesto-and-basil-loaded capri ($6 half; $9.75 whole), and Centennial’s Irv’s ($6.40 half; $9.95 whole), which boasts an edible collage of grilled sausage, caramelized onions, and green peppers. A fully stocked bar features at least 36 draft beers, including Odell's Cutthroat Porter and Rogue Dead Guy Ale, all of which are more tasty palate cleansers than standard options such as ice-cube platters or ginger lollipops.