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Denver’s no stranger to incredible Italian fare. There’s a high bar to be met thanks to culinary institutions like Barolo Grill, serving up authentic Old Country dishes for 30-plus years, or Gaetano’s, filling the bellies of Denver’s most formidable 1950s mobsters. And the wealth of handspun pasta and homemade red sauce throughout the city shows no sign of slowing down.

But we are searching for the best of the best. So we created Foodball, a bracket-style voting competition pitting 16 of the city’s top Italian restaurants head-to-head to see who’s menu was home to the “Best Signature Pasta Dish” in Denver.

This week, we meet the Foodball Final Four. The homemade helpings at these restaurants beat out some of the best competition in town, bringing us down to the two final matchups of our pasta playoffs.


Brought to us by the acclaimed brother-sister duo Paul and Aileen Reilly, Coperta is a love letter to Southern Italy, honoring the Old Country’s native produce and poultry with tasteful simplicity. The team behind the restaurant describes their work like this: “It is a simple cuisine of sustenance, using only what the earth and sea can seasonally provide — nothing more and nothing less.”

Road to the Final Four

Defeated Luca and Tavernetta

Signature Dish:

Bucatini all’Amatriciana

Thick bucatini pasta served in a classic red wine tomato sauce and tossed with red onions and house-cured pork belly, then topped with pezcorino cheese.

A big part of what makes Coperta Coperta is working with our local farmers and ranchers. Having the conversation with them about what is in season, what’s coming into season, and what is on its way out is crucial to making Coperta what it is.

—Chef Kenny Minton


What began as a simple daytime cafe and gelato shop blossomed into the elegant upscale Italian eatery that is Spuntino. The concept is driven by husband-wife team Elliot Strathmann and Cindhura Reddy and boasts a seasonally rotating menu that offers innovative Italian-inspired specialties served with Old World Italian hospitality. The Spuntino team describes their work as a “unique marriage of reverence for tradition and passion-driven innovation.”

Road to the Final Four

Defeated Voghera and Bar Dough

Signature Dish:

Capellini Aglio e Olio

Hand-rolled capellini pasta tossed in homemade chicken stock demi glace, Corto olive oil, South Indian garlic pickle, butter, and chili flakes, then served with a 63-degree poached egg, black Hawaiian salt, and toasted garlic bread crumbs.

We built a sauce [around] this preserved garlic I grew up eating, which is a very heavy Indian spice garlic condiment that builds a beautiful sauce for the pasta.

Chef Cindhura Reddy


This Denver pasta staple isn’t a stranger to the limelight. Cattivella is a regular recipient of local and national recognition, including a 12-year stint as Westword’s “Best Italian Restaurant in Denver.” Authenticity is key here, and each menu item is a beautifully delicious homage to Italy. At Cattivella, the “exhibition kitchen is the star of the show … and focuses all attention on a wood-burning pizza oven, a wood-burning grill and the graceful dance of the Cattivella cooks.”

Road to the Final Four

Defeated White Pie and Undici

Signature Dish:


Handmade meatballs made with veal, pork, and beef are served with three-cheese tortellini in a slow-braised Bolognese and bechamel sauce, then topped with bruleed parmigiano and served with grilled bread.

This was one of the very first dishes I learned when I went to Italy. I love the history behind all the Italian dishes. I seek out dishes that no one else is doing in the States.

—Elise Wiggins


This Italian gem came to Denver straight from Florence circa 1997, and it shows. Proud to be one of the first purveyors of authentic Italian eats — like burrata, bresaola, and alici — in Denver, the team at Parisi describes their food as “edible nostalgia.” About their work, they say: “Know that every time you eat something from our menu, there is some story from Italy attached to it.”

Road to the Final Four

Defeated Il Post and Restaurant Olivia

Signature Dish:

Ravioli di Zucca

Homemade ravioli filled with roasted butternut squash, tossed with sage-infused butter, then topped with a sprinkle of walnuts and a sweet balsamic glaze.

I love this dish especially in the fall. … Every dish we create is within the season.

—Chef Mario Godoy


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