Via Toscana manages to feel like its in two countries at the same time. Chef Eric Johnson embraces the culinary traditions of Tuscany by hand cutting freshly prepared pastas and baking pizzas loaded with everything from spicy pepperoni and arugula to crispy pancetta and pine nuts. At the same time, he incorporates as many Colorado flavors into his dishes as possible, filling the seasonal menus with organic ingredients sourced from local farms. The wine list complements this extensive range of flavors by featuring more than 600 different bottles, many of which hail from Italy’s iconic vineyards. Much like the menu, Via Toscana’s décor fuses rustic as well as refined elements within the same space. Lantern-like wall sconces adorn the dining room’s many archways and help lend a warm, inviting glow to the tangerine-orange walls and dark wooden accents. Above the bar, a collection of antique-like plates and decorative vases fill the lighted alcoves lining the top of the wall, lending a bit of homespun charm to the ambiance.
Marco's Pizza founder Pasquale "Pat" Giammarco began helping out at his family’s pizzeria when he was just a boy. The eatery provided a taste of home to the Gianmarco clan, who moved to the United States from Italy when Pat was 9 years old. Together with his father, young Pat learned the secrets to creating exceptional pizza sauce: three different types of vine-ripened tomatoes and spices that can only be imported from Italy or the moon.
The perfected sauce recipe continues to guide Pat’s kitchen operations, although these days he has considerably more help. Marco's Pizza has 350 locations in more than half the states as well as in the Bahamas, each store tossing fresh pizza dough daily before sprinkling on a trio of fresh cheeses.
Dismayed by the small selection of beauty products in their local malls, a group of friends launched Beauty Club to help discerning aesthetes like themselves discover new brands and stock up on the ones they already love. They stay ahead of the curve by working directly with cosmetics houses, snatching up facial cleansers, anti-aging serums, and shampoos the moment they hit the market. Like a kindergartener’s political views, their collection changes every day. In the past, it has included hair solutions from J Beverly Hills, organic body lotions and eye creams from Pangea Organics, and makeup from Glo Minerals.
Named for a city in Emilia-Romagna, Italy, which earned culinary acclaim for its parmigiano-reggiano cheese and prosciutto, Parma Trattoria dedicates its menus to the region's homespun cuisine. Led by Italian-born executive chefs Marco Monnanni and Silvio Cuomo, the kitchen incorporates imported cheeses from Rome and Naples into its entrees alongside organic ingredients from local farmers. To maintain the flavors of a home-cooked, Mediterranean meal, they roll their own meatballs, cut fresh pasta, and make some of their lactose-free cheeses in-house.
The dining room, decorated with sunset-orange walls and an arched ceiling over its central seating area, also features a mozzarella bar with a large flat-screen television displaying live footage of chefs working in the kitchen. During the warmer months, the outdoor patio lets up to 50 diners enjoy their meal al fresco or watch neighborhood children remove the engines from parked automobiles.
Baristas at Cafe de Paris brew Novo coffee fresh for each cup and steep more than 50 different kinds of organic loose-leaf tea from International Tea Importers, filling the café with rich aromas transported inside a soft haze of steam idly spiraling through the air. Sipping microbrewed masala chai tea with pressed ginger between bites of sweet and savory crepes, panini sandwiches, and regular or gluten-free bagels, patrons may browse the Internet inside the café or listen to live jazz music and indie rock performances during weekly events. Outside on the terrace, lined with umbrella-topped tables, diners clink glasses of French wine or craft beers during nightly happy hours while strains of music linger in the background.
The menu at LuLu's BBQ abounds with tender, slow-smoked morsels of beef, chicken, and tofu slathered in zesty barbecue sauce. Wood framework and Texas stars decorate the steakhouse's interior, where dinner rolls buckle under the tasty weight of sliced beef brisket and meat tumbles off the bone of half or full racks of ribs. Paired with the protein-filled main menu are 11 sides, including sweet-potato tots, green-bean casserole, and fried okra, along with desserts such as LuLu's special Sweet Cow ice cream, which comes directly from Hawaii's sugar-cow farms.