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.
John Pinelli had lived across the country, but he always returned to one place: Philadelphia. Each year, no matter where he was, he would come back to that city like a boomerang. A very hungry boomerang. During his visits, he devoured cheese steaks, Italian hoagies, water ice, and Tastykakes snack pies. He just wished he could bring one of those restaurants back to his home in Denver. Instead, he opened South Philly Cheese Steaks in 2004.
Pinelli's decision to leave his corporate job perplexed his family, but he knew he was on to something. After all, he knew how to make italian hoagies and hot roast beef. He knew how to bake Philly-style pizza, and of course, he knew how to assemble an authentic Philadelphia cheese steak. It all proved successful, and South Philly Cheese Steaks now has several locations across Denver and its surrounding areas?with more likely to come.
At each restaurant, a simple dining room greets patrons with casual tables and a custom mural of Philadelphia's skyline. In the kitchen, cooks work with many ingredients sourced right from Philly. In addition to the classic cheese steak, they assemble special varieties, such as a pizza cheese steak with provolone and marinara.
A "tuk tuk" (pronounced "took took") is a type of three-wheeled taxi service commonly found in Thailand. It's used by tourists as well as locals, who appreciate the speed and convenience. Westminster's Tuk Tuk Thai Bistro tries to capture the above qualities in a restaurant, and it largely succeeds. But there's a certain elegance to Tuk Tuk that you might not expect to find on the streets of Bangkok. The kitchen takes typical street foods and classes them up, resulting in a menu that seems both familiar and adventurous.
Noodles & Company's cooks unite a diverse menu of Asian, Mediterranean, and American fare with the common thread of the noble noodle. The friendly cooks speedily serve each order, which deliciously bridges the gap between convenience and fine dining with casual fare and a strictly enforced dress code of flip-flops and tuxedos.
On average, it takes one year to invent a sandwich that meets the standards of Jason's Deli—countless combinations of breads and filling won't ever leave the test kitchen. Those that do follow a strict set of rules: no artificial trans fat, no high-fructose corn syrup, and flavors that come from freshness rather than additives. The results can be bitten into at hundreds of locations across America. At each, difficult choices abound between reubens and spicy-ranchero chicken wraps, or between a turkey club and a New Orleans-inspired muffaletta, spread with a family-recipe olive mix. Even those who don't want a sandwich still have to make tough decisions when they approach the salad bar brimming with organic fixings.
Despite the difficulties of selection, Jason's Deli prioritizes convenience. Its stores have organized a list of gluten-sensitive selections as well as healthy kids' meals, which come with sides of organic carrots or apples as opposed to other restaurants' deep-fried lard balls. The company also advocates for emotional health as fervently as it does nutrition—its Leadership Institute hosts workshops for employees on topics ranging from conflict resolution to finances to ethics.