Part of a large, Italian family, Jimmy Zamparelli grew up in a New Jersey, where he helped his grandmother craft ricotta ravioli, meatballs, and marinara sauce for family gatherings. His wife, Nancy, grew up in Houston, where her mother planned family meals around ingredients gathered at the local farmers market. The duo met at the Culinary Institute of America and the rest, as they say, is history.
Today, at Zamparelli's Italian Bistro, you'll find hints of both spouse's culinary roots in the cuisine, where recipes are often inspired by Jimmy's grandmother, but prepared using fresh, local ingredients,. Brick-oven pizzas are the house specialty?not to mention a favorite of Every Day with Rachel Ray magazine?and sprinkled with everything from clams and creamy garlic sauce to caramelized onion, gorgonzola, and smoked bacon. Elsewhere in the open kitchen, cooks pile house-made meatballs into sandwiches, layer meat sauce and mozzarella into gluten-free lasagnas, and toss roasted beets with shaved fennel, goat cheese, candied walnuts, and baby greens, which are surprisingly mature for their age. Wines by the glass and local beers complement feasts, which best end with a helping of gluten-free chocolate mousse, insists the Denver Post.
Smashburger isn't just the name—it's the way chefs grill every burger. First, they form never-frozen, 100% Angus beef into a giant meatball. Then they season it, place it on a butter-glazed grill, and smash it into a patty. The process caramelizes the beef, locking in flavor while keeping the meat juicy and tender. The chefs then sandwich each slab in an artisan bun and turn it into one of an array of standard burgers or locally inspired specialties unique to each market. This handcrafting approach typifies everything else the chefs do, from blending handspun Häagen-Dazs shakes to hand painting Smashburger's logo onto every beverage cup. Letting its food stand for itself and relying mostly on word of mouth for advertising, the Smashburger franchise expanded to 160 restaurants in five years, with its swift growth from zero to 100 stores making it one of the nation's fastest-growing restaurant companies. This rapid development even caught the attention of Forbes and Inc. along the way.
Si Senor skillfully serves a menu abundant with delectable Mexican fare. The Si Senor breakfast sates hungers built while squeezing full-size bricks into legos with two eggs, home fries, two tortillas, green chili, and a choice of crispy bacon or spicy chorizo ($7.25). Lunch seekers can munch on the burrito sampler plate, a medley including four 6-inch burritos ($9.75), and the make-your-own combo allows diners to mix and match items to create a dream team of hunger-conquering eats ($9.95). Cultures collide with the mexican hamburger, a flour tortilla filled with hamburger steak and beans strewn with cheese, lettuce, and tomato and served with rice ($8.75). A range of kid-friendly eats ($4.95) is also available to keep bored tots from starting careers in commercial real estate.
Much like its siblings Thai Kitchens 1 and 2, Thai Kitchen 3 can be identified by the distinctive aroma of sizzling garlic and fresh basil that wafts out through its door. In the kitchen, chefs fold fresh seafood, meats, and vegetables into savory curries, nutty noodle dishes, and fiery stir-fries. All meals are made by adhering to time-honored traditional Thai recipes, which favor spicy chili peppers, creamy coconut milk, and tangy ginger root. Servers bring plates of noodles and bowls of soup into the dining room, where guests await their meals as they sip on Thai iced coffee in cushy booths amid warm red and yellow walls. Other diners sit perched on tall red bar stools as they order a cocktail or demonstrate how many times they can twirl around in a circle without even getting dizzy.
At Morning Glory Farm Fresh Cafe, Chef Jules and her kitchen staff reach for local and organic ingredients as they assemble farm-to-table fare that changes with the seasons. When the windowed dining room is flooded with sunlight, the staff whips together gluten-free blueberry pancakes, cracks organic eggs for hearty omelets, and makes soysage from scratch. Later in the day, amid occasional live-music acts on the outdoor patio, they serve a mix of American favorites including meatloaf with mashed potatoes, as well as new takes on classic dishes such as the Sloppy Jules, a mix of tofu, tempeh, and cheese toast. Natural sweeteners pour into a rotating selection of desserts, and Solar Roast coffee fills cups, as do wine, beer, and bottomless mimosas at brunch.
Udon Kaisha's chefs prepare traditional noodle dishes that have been an everyday staple of Japanese life since 206 BC. Spicy morsels of pork, peppers, shrimp, and tofu mingle with udon noodles in salty broths or nestle inside knots of ramen noodles in tangy, sweet soup bases. Authentic yakitori skewers and mussel appetizers prime stomachs for the meal ahead, and dishes of deep-fried bananas and green-tea ice cream silence the final echoes of rumbling bellies. The chefs also prepare servings of grilled salmon and teriyaki beef and fashion flavorful sushi rolls for those with allergies to heat.