With a 12-year stint as executive chef of Panzano and countless awards under her belt, Elise Wiggins is a known culinary titan of the dining scene and for good reason—this woman knows her stuff. Not only does she have a breadth of knowledge like no other—just ask her any question about Italy—it is her precision to detail and her infectious energy that makes her a star. Since her departure from Panzano last spring, Wiggins has been hard at work, tirelessly perfecting her menu for her first concept, Cattivella, set to open this April.
Cattivella—which loosely translates to “Naughty Girl” in Italian—will open in the Eastbridge development in Stapleton. The 3,200-square-foot venue will hold up to 200 guests complete with a chef’s counter, a bar area, and a stunning wrap-around patio with a view of the mountains. With a much-anticipated opening, Wiggins has given us a sneak peek of what is truly a stellar menu.
“The fire never dies at Cattivella”
The heart of Cattivella lies in the hearth, as the restaurant centers around wood-fired Italian cuisine thanks to an imported Neapolitan wood-fired oven and a wood-fired grilled. The oven will produce a menu of bubbly, Neapolitan-style pizzas, charred to perfection, as well as pasta al forno. The wood-fired grill will lend itself to caramelized meats such as beef, pork, lamb, and even chargrilled seafood. In fact, the flame will be eternal at Cattivella, as slow roasted meats and Cannellini beans will be cooked overnight by the flickering coals.
Every dish has a story
Wiggins—who has made it a point to travel to Italy at least once a year—has culled a plethora of authentic recipes, each with its own story. Take the Pasticcio, a dish inspired by Catherine de Medici of the sixteenth century. When Catherine had married Henry II and subsequently moved to France, she brought a handful of her loyal chefs with her. Homesick from her travels, her chefs prepared a meal with all of her favorites, meatballs, tortellini, and bechamel, all cooked in a large cauldron. As a finishing touch, the chefs layered thin sheets of dough across the cauldron, with dome-shaped piece atop. When they presented it to her, a flock of birds flew from the dome, greatly pleasing the Queen. Wiggins has re-interpreted the dish, sans birds of course, packed to the brim with flavors fit for royalty.
Thoughtful wine and cocktail selections
Cattivella will only have 10 seasonally rotating wines served by the glass or bottle, with each wine having a dish to match. Patrons can opt for wine flights and even order glasses by the ounce, allowing guests to sample expensive varietals while keeping the price affordable. Bar Manager Giovanni Fioramonte has also crafted up a line of cocktails and mocktails, that will rotate with the menu and seasons.
By Morgan Carter, Editor