The same cutlet can be had in the chicken parm sandwich, one of four bread-, not pasta-, based entrees on the menu. The satisfying sandwich is a mouthful, but it seems a shame to bury such flavorful bird under so much bread. The meatballs also come swaddled in an Italian baguette, with plenty of red sauce and whole basil leaves. After one messy bite of her sandwich, a friend blurted out, "I think it would be really hard to be vegan in Italy."

Where the kitchen veers from Grandma's territory, the results aren't such a sure bet. Polenta topped with arugula, balsamic-glazed mushrooms and a fried egg is like the blind date we've all been on: interesting at first, but not where you want to spend the rest of the night. At lunch one day, I tried to salvage a roasted-red-pepper-and-Fontina sandwich by borrowing an old pizza-parlor trick and soaking up oil with my napkin, only to give up after a few slightly-less-oily-but-still-bland bites; salsa verde should have provided balancing brightness, but the lemon and capers seemed to have clocked out early. And a so-called salad of cannellini beans, black rice, greens, shaved asparagus and another fried egg looked like a plate that had been through a buffet, with a little of this and a little of that dabbed on. Designed with the help of DiFranco's personal trainer, who works at the fitness center in the same building as DiFranco's, the salad may get a stamp of nutritional approval, but the odd mash-up won't win any culinary awards.

DiFranco's grandmother might not be here in person, but she's present in spirit as well as image (that's her in the photo, wearing a bathing suit and holding the fish). So listen when she says "Eat, eat," and finish your meal with dessert. Housemade lemon-ricotta cookies (a family recipe) are the most popular sweet, but at this point in the summer, nothing beats an icy lemon-orange granita. DiFranco says the refreshing dessert isn't selling as well as he'd like, a fact that stumps him and me both, given the puckery allure of this grown-up snow cone.

See also: Behind the scenes at DiFranco's
Danielle Lirette
See also: Behind the scenes at DiFranco's
Danielle Lirette

Location Info



955 Lincoln St., Ste. D
Denver, CO 80203

Category: Restaurant > Deli

Region: Central Denver


Penne $10
Angel hair $8.50
Fettuccine $11
Agnolotti $12
Chicken parm sandwich $9
Meatball sandwich $8.50
Roasted red pepper sandwich $8
Mushroom polenta $6.50
Shaved asparagus and cannellini $7
Lemon-ricotta cookies $2
Granita $3
955 Lincoln Street
Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday

The only explanation, of course, is that someone forgot to put it in the memo.

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Stacey Bloomfield
Stacey Bloomfield

I've now had their meatballs a few times and I actually dream about them.


Make sure you eat something before you go here...