Rosati’s Pizza's history dates back to the early 1900s, when a recent Italian immigrant named Ferdinand Rosati moved from New York to Chicago with the dream of opening a restaurant. His first attempt was modest—with Ferdinand simultaneously fulfilling the duties of chef, server, dishwasher, and host—but quickly gained popularity for its crispy-thin-crust pizzas, originally served as complimentary appetizers. Encouraged by the public's response to the pies, Ferdinand and his son, Sam, decided to focus their efforts on opening a true pizzeria.
Today, at Rosati's Pizza locations across the country, plumes of heat swirl above piping-hot pies concocted from handmade sauce and dough. A smattering of toppings cling to five crust options—crispy thin, double dough, Chicago-style, pan, and superstuffed—as well as hide from their hungry predators inside hand-rolled calzones. Homemade lasagna and fettuccine alfredo battle for the top pasta spot, and fried chicken, baby back ribs, and fried-shrimp dinners work together to distract diners from hard-to-resist buffalo wings.
When Denver Westword critic Jason Sheehan visited Cracovia Restaurant and Bar, his summation of the meal ended up sounding less like a restaurant review and more like an Alice in Wonderland?style memoir dripping with passion and faux nostalgia. At one point, he recalled a desire to tackle a waiter who had walked by with a plate of cabbage rolls, so that he could "grab the golabki with [his] teeth and drink the tomato-mushroom gravy straight from the tureen." Later in the meal, he and his wife felt so connected to the food, they almost felt Polish themselves: "If our mothers had been Polish ? this would've been what we ate growing up, " Jason said, "This tastes like home cooking in the best possible way, tastes of time and care and experience and love."
Love is probably the key word here: it's not surprising that Jason and his wife were so enamored with their meal, considering Cracovia is a labor of love for husband-wife team Lester and Marie Rodzen. They named the restaurant after a Krakow hotel where they honeymooned more than a quarter-century ago, and they pour this affection for their home country into each of the from-scratch Polish dishes they create, which is part of the reason they were named ?Best German/Eastern European Restaurant Denver 2014? by Denver Westword. The aforementioned golabki?cabbage rolls stuffed with pork and rice?is one of the Rodzens' signature dishes, as are the homemade kielbasa and pierogi stuffed with meat, cabbage, cheese, or blueberries, all purchased at local farmers markets. In the spirit of its romantic inspiration, Cracovia is a perfect date-night restaurant?every Friday and Saturday night, live singers croon as couples make their way to the dining room's dance floor or three-legged racing area.
Nestled near the foot of the Front Range mountains about 30 minutes from Denver and Boulder, Hilltop Inn pampers patrons with homey confines and ample amenities. After checking in, guests are greeted in their king mini suite by a half dozen chocolate-covered strawberries, a complimentary snack bar, and breathtaking mountain views. A romantic gas fireplace keeps toes toasty, and a satellite-enabled, 27-inch flat-screen TV inspires epic, popcorn-fueled channel-surfing competitions. Guests can stop by The Wildflowers Tea Room & Restaurant and use their $10 gift card toward a late-afternoon tea, an english bread pudding, or something heartier, such as corned beef cooked in Guinness and whiskey. With a refrigerator, microwave, and kitchen sink in their room, boarders can pack it in for the night and take advantage of the WiFi connection to perform magic shows via video chat to enraptured family and friends. After all sheep are counted and the violet hue of the sun paints the eastern sky, lodgers start the day with a full-size breakfast before heading off into the mountains for a bout of exuberant yodeling.
City Pizza’s pie-tossing chefs deliver made-to-order, square-cut St. Louis–style pizzas to hungry patrons, covering each doughy delight in custom toppings. St. Louis's signature provel melts into a cheesy embrace around toppings such as canadian bacon, roasted green chilies, or Italian-seasoned tomatoes, adding international flair to each pie and stamping mouth passports. Fresh-rolled dough props up topping piles with cracker-thin crispness, and hand-crushed spices lend fragrant, flavorful body to the signature sweet sauce. To cram overtime taste-play into the Game Day package, fryers kiss beef-filled raviolis to a golden-brown perfection, before the toasted noodles receive a dusting of parmesan and a place kick straight into waiting mouths.
La Estrellita has been serving up mouth-watering Mexican fare to area residents for more than 20 years. Start with an order of the mexi rolls ($7.50–$8.50), a family creation of ground beef and pico de gallo wrapped in an egg roll and deep fried, or share a plate of spicy chicken wings ($8–$8.50) coated in the family’s award-winning sauce. Main courses such as crab and spinach enchiladas ($9–$10) or spicy fish tacos (jalapeño-marinated tilapia grilled with caramelized onions, $10) are sure to please aquaphiles, while a combination plate such as the costillas adobadas (country-style ribs served with rice and beans, $10–$11) will satisfy even the most insatiable talking plant. Most of La Estrellita’s entrees can be served vegetarian upon request, much to the delight of vegetarians and those who derive energy through photosynthesis. Conclude any meal as sweetly as a Marlon Brando after-school special with an order of the dessert nachos ($6–$6.29) or one of La Estrellita’s 15+ margarita flavors (starting at $5.50).
• For $10, you get $20 worth of Asian cuisine during lunch from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. • For $20, you get $40 worth of Asian cuisine during dinner from 3 p.m. until 11 p.m. Diners who redeem their Groupon Thursday, Friday, or Saturday after 8:30 p.m. receive complimentary edamame and sake.