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Denver Chefs Dish: On Italian Food

The best Italian food in Denver, according to Denver’s best Italian chefs

We wanted to know: Where do Denver’s pasta pros go when the’ve got the night off and the hankering for homemade Italian hits? 

We went to four local red sauce experts: Chef Elise Wiggins from Cattivella, Chef Kenny Minton from Coperta, Chef Cindhura Reddy from Spuntino, and Chef Christine Parisi from Parisi.

But they’re not just experts in our book — earlier this month, Denver diners cheered all four chefs to the semi-final round of Foodball, a vote-based, bracket-style competition for the “Best Pasta Dish” in Denver. 


And now, the Foodball Final Four are giving us the dish on some of the other local chefs and restaurants that they think are serving up prime time pastas, perfect pizzas, and other incredible Italian eats.


Chef Elise Wiggins, Cattivella (1st place Foodball winner)

Luca is one of my favorites. Chef Frank [Bonnano] used to serve squab and I nearly took my clothes off the first time I had it. Also Coperta’s Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe! I’m a huge fan of Paul and Aileen [Reilly]. And Olivia’s Pumpkin Tortellini. It’s been a minute but it was plate-licking good!”

Kenny Minton, Coperta (2nd place Foodball winner)

“My favorite place to get Italian food is most definitely Cart-Driver. Whether it is their late-night happy hour in RiNo after work grabbing a Daisy Pizza and some Sardines Conserva or heading up to the LoHi to sit down and eat a Clam Pizza with whatever seasonal dish they have at the time, it is always the perfect fit. Cart-Driver is the first place I take any out of town family and friends and almost always my first stop whenever I’m getting back into town.     

If I’m looking for the ‘perfect bite’ of pasta you can almost always find me at Rioja eating their Artichoke Tortellini. Albeit not an Italian restaurant by any means, I have always been a fan of the pasta they do there.”

Chef Cindhura Reddy, Spuntino (3rd place Foodball winner) 

“While we rarely get out to other restaurants, our favorite for many years has been Pizzeria Lui in Lakewood. The owner Zach is a wonderful guy and has the sort of stubborn commitment to great ingredients and consistency that shows in the food. I’m not sure there’s ever been a pizza in the years he’s been open that he didn’t have a hand in. We also had an absolutely lovely meal at Olivia last year. Such a treat to enjoy someone else’s handmade pastas. Ty is so talented and everything about their restaurant is very thoughtful.”

Chef Christine Parisi, Parisi (4th place Foodball winner) 

“My favorite place to eat when I am not having food from my own place is Cart-Driver. The Peppers Pizza or the Cart-Driver Pizza are my favs. The RiNo location is close to my house, so when I’m craving a different style of pizza from ours, this is my go-to. I can walk and my dog can hang on the patio with me.”


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