Best Panini - 2011
For several years, Massimo Ruffinazzi, who was born and raised in Casteggio, Lombardia, Italy, was chef/partner at Il Fornaio, an Italian restaurant that once occupied prime real estate in LoDo and was always lauded for its breads. Ruffinazzi remains a bona fide bread-head, turning out loaves of love at Shangri-La, his groovy cafe in Highland. The menu — salads, a salumi plate and a pantheon of panini — is simple and small, but the panini, pressed in a tiny kitchen, ooze with big flavors. Ruffinazzi uses a custom-baked bread, filling the halves — properly baked so they yield the ideal amount of chew and crackle — with everything from arugula leaves and weightless shavings of Parma prosciutto to bresaola, imported Sicilian tuna and an exquisite wild-mushroom spread lightly whiffed with truffle. The panini are only available till 3 p.m., when Shangri-La closes its doors for the day — but at any hour, you are simply not going to find better panini in Denver.