Newer entrees tend to be an offer you can — and probably should — refuse. Mushroom ravioli are served with sliced oyster mushrooms in a bowl of brown liquid that tastes more like water than parmesan-porcini broth. Pan-seared lemon fish tempts with a great sear but lacks brightness (the lemon refers to the fish's type, not citrus), and the accompanying tomato risotto is heavy and wet. A pork chop — billed as "chops," plural — promises loads of flavor, but the half-teaspoon of orange gremolata (a mix of parsley, garlic and orange zest) can't begin to cover the hefty chop. Broccoli rabe, served on the plate with fried red potatoes, waffles between woefully over- and under-salted.

Ramirez, who inherited the menu and is still working out kinks in execution, recognizes its shortcomings, some of which — like the formerly inauthentic but now delicious tiramisu — he's already addressed. "Most of the time people are looking for pasta or traditional dishes like chicken piccata or chicken marsala," he admits, adding that he's asked corporate for a green light to restore some of these items.

In the meantime, this onetime architecture student — who switched directions and spent his culinary career in Italian restaurants across the West and in Rome — is doing his best to keep customers happy. He serves longtime favorites such as the "half and half" — spaghetti and ravioli with either a meatball or sausage — as a lunch special and goes so far as to buy ingredients and invite guests back another night when they request something he can't make with what's on hand. He's also trying to care for his staff, insisting that the morning crew sit down together for a family meal, as was the custom in Rome.

Chef Daniel Ramirez in the kitchen at the revamped Gaetano's.
mark manger
Chef Daniel Ramirez in the kitchen at the revamped Gaetano's.

Location Info


Gaetano's Restaurant

3760 Tejon St.
Denver, CO 80211

Category: Restaurant > Italian

Region: Northwest Denver


Risotto croquettes $5
Polpette in tomato sauce $6
Gaetano's Caesar Photos: Behind the Scenes at Gaetano's

Gorgonzola flatbread $8
Gnocchi with brown butter $7
Wild-mushroomravioli $13
Chicken parmigiana $16
Pan-seared lemon fish $16
Lasagna $13
Pork chops $18
Tiramisu $6
3760 Tejon Street
Hours: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. daily; 5-10 p.m. Monday to Thursday; 5-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 5-9 p.m. Sunday

With the heart of an Italian grandmother and the skills of a trained chef, Ramirez seems to have what it takes to bring Gaetano's food on par with the decor. And with time, who knows? He just might settle the score with Lou's.

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The revamped Gaetano's is insanely loud, and since there is no waiting area, diners also get to hear the people waiting to be seated.  Which, the night I was there, included a woman who brayed like an ass and told the entire restaurant in great detail about the multitude of drinks that she had consumed prior to coming to the restaurant.  I was happy that I left before she hit the road again. 

The Caesar salad is excellent and enough for two to share (thanks to our server for the suggestion).  I had the eggplant, which was heavy on grease and light on eggplant.  I'll make another choice next time.  The tiramisu was delicious and also enough for two.  The wine selections by the glass are laughable - a bubbly, a white and a red.


The Smaldone's were punks and not in charge of anything....Low Level mobsters working for a boss in KC...They were scum of the earth...Ask their former employeess...They scared no one...Chauncey was a pussy...I wish he was here, he would have his face smashed in..I'd have done it in high school, but my buddy worked for them...Punks equal Smaldones....