Best Chef - 2009
Frank Bonanno envisioned Mizuna a neighborhood fine-dining restaurant before that trend became de rigueur in every neighborhood in town. Then came Luca d'Italia, a great little Italian restaurant that hit before this city got overrun with great little Italian restaurants, back in the day (not so long ago) when the city really was a red-sauce wasteland. There were a couple of missteps along the way (Milagro, Harry's), but Bonanno came back strong with Osteria Marco in Larimer Square, a beautiful, honest and low-to-the-ground osteria offering (more or less) pig, pig, pig and wine. And now he has Bones — the noodle bar that's not really a noodle bar, the Asian restaurant that ain't Asian. There are a lot of people on the restaurant scene who don't love Bonanno, who are annoyed by his pride, his ego and the fact that he doesn't keep his mouth shut when he sees something being done wrong. Thing is, those are exactly the reasons that we like the guy. Because he reminds us of a chef — a loud-mouthed, occasionally crazy, always commanding sonofabitch who can back up every quirk and tirade because not only does he already operate three of the best restaurants in the city, but now, officially, the Best New Restaurant in Denver for 2009.