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Gaetano's Restaurant

3760 Tejon St. Denver, CO 80211 | Northwest Denver | 303-455-9852

Location Description:

Gaetano’s has a very colorful past. The Smaldone family founded the Italian-American restaurant in 1947, serving homemade pasta and meatballs doused in red sauce in the dining room while book-making and other less savory operations went on behind closed doors – which explained the bulletproof glass in the front of the joint. Ultimately, the family discontinued that portion of their operations, then sold Gaetano’s altogether to the Wynkoop Group, which, nearly a decade later and now partnered with Breckenridge Brewery, undertook a major renovation, knocking down walls and revamping the menu. When the changes were unveiled in the summer of 2012, they came as a shock to generations of north Denverites – but the new interior was actually a pleasant surprise, with big windows (not bulletproof) and comfortable booths by the bar. The menu updates were less successful. When in doubt, go with dishes flavored by the old-school Gaetano’s, including meatballs (offered both as an app and a side), lasagna and gnocchi. And for an offer that you – and the kitchen – really can’t refuse? Ask for the on-request-only pasta topped with sausage, green peppers and a very traditional red sauce.


Related Stories (27)

Details

  • Cuisine(s): Italian, Pizza
  • Hours: Mon-Thu 11pm-10pm, Fri-Sat 11am-11pm, Sun 10am-9pm
  • Price: $$
  • Serving: Dinner, Lunch
  • Alcohol: Full bar
  • Reservations: Accepted, Recommended for Large Parties
  • Parking: Free, Lot Available
  • Payment Types: All Major Credit Cards, cash, ATM/Debit
  • Attire: Casual
  • Features: Kid Friendly, Patio/Sidewalk Dining, Smoking, Takeout, Vegetarian Friendly, Wheelchair Accessible

Upcoming Events

Related Stories

  • Cafe Society: Open and Shut Cases
    Ron Robinson was in Gaetano's all day yesterday. He's spent plenty of time there before -- when the Wynkoop group bought the iconic restaurant from the Smaldone family eight years ago,...
  • Cafe Society: Dish 2013
    On Sunday, September 22, DISH will dish out food and drinks from dozens of Cafe Society's favorite restaurants and trucks, as well as Best of Denver readers' winners, in the Sculpture Park...
  • Cafe Society: Dish 2013
    Denver has evolved over the past twenty years -- and so has DISH, Westword's annual celebration of the metro Denver dining scene. On Sunday, September 22, DISH will return to the Sculpture...
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  • Cafe Society: The Dish
    Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it...and repeat it. On Sunday, a car crash outside of Gaetano's sent a minivan spinning off West 38th Avenue up to the restaurant's front...
  • Cafe Society: Chef and Tell
    Daniel Ramirez Gaetano's 3760 Tejon Street 303-455-9852 www.gaetanositalian.com/ Part one of my interview with Daniel Ramirez, exec chef of Gaetano's, ran yesterday; this is part two of...
  • Cafe Society: Chef and Tell
    Daniel Ramirez Gaetano's 3760 Tejon Street 303-455-9852 www.gaetanositalian.com/ This is part one of my interview with Daniel Ramirez, exec chef of Gaetano's; part two of our chat will...
  • Cafe Society: Culinary Events
    The revamped, and recently reviewed, Gaetano's will host one of its monthly wine dinners tonight, showcasing various wineries by pairing their vino with a special four-course menu. This...
  • Dining: Reviewed
    I can only imagine what Chauncey Smaldone, the youngest of the loan-sharking, book-making Smaldone brothers, would've said when Lou's Food Bar hung out its shingle down the street. For...
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    This week Gretchen Kurtz reviews Gaetano's, a 65-year-old Italian joint in northwest Denver that just had a facelift of both its building and its menu. This is one of the last red-sauce...
  • Cafe Society: Follow That Story
    "Here's the thing," confides veteran journalist Dick Kreck, "the family is not crazy about the new Gaetano's." One family's opinion of this Italian institution might not matter, but we're...
  • Cafe Society: Review Preview
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    Open the door of the newly renovated Gaetano's, Lori Midson reports, and you'll see many familiar sights. The bar. The naked lady. The plates of pasta. It looks familiar, but better -- once...
  • Cafe Society: Comment of the Day
    Gaetano's is about to reopen, after a major renovation/repair job that the owners bill as "respectful of the past" -- which means the bar looks much the same, and the history of the family...
  • Cafe Society: Foodography
    For the past several weeks, whenever I've driven down 38th Avenue, passing my beloved Gaetano's on my way to somewhere else, I've experienced that pit in my stomach, the pit that comes...
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    For more than sixty years, Gaetano's has been a northside institution -- first as a joint owned by the Smaldones, Denver's legendary mob family, and then by the Wynkoop group, which bought...
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    I grew up on the far west side of town, a culinary black hole -- at least in the '70s and '80s -- that forced me and my family to drive what I believed were impossibly long distances to...
  • Cafe Society: Culinary Events
    What, you didn't know that today is not just National Garlic Day, but also National Amaretto Day? Gaetano's did. Today, the venerable Italian eatery will be offering free garlic bread and...
  • Dining: Reviewed
    While I nursed a glass of cheap house red at the Gaetano's bar, I watched neighbors cycle in to pick up their to-go orders. First came a couple in running gear, talking with a little too...
  • Cafe Society: Happy Hour
    Happy Place: Gaetano's, 3760 Tejon Street, 303-477-6096 The Hours: Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 p.m. The Deals: $1 off Wynkoop draft beers; $3 cocktails, including homemade...
  • Cafe Society: Behind the Bar
    For years, Gaetano's, the iconic neighborhood Italian joint at 3760 Tejon Street, has billed itself as "Italian to die for." And now it's pouring cello, the potent Italian liquid that...
  • Dining: Columns
    Following service this past Saturday, Adega suddenly went dark. It came as a helluva shock. I mean, this was Adega. No place in the city had gotten better reviews locally or more love from...
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    In this cash-and-carry world, nothing is inviolate and everything is for sale. Even memory. Especially memory. There's good money to be made in strip-mining nostalgia, and for those who find...
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Best of Award Recipient

Business Description

Originally opened a few blocks away on 36th Ave, Ralph and Mamie Smaldone raised their growing family during tough times in the “wild, wild west” in the early 1930’s. To boost business in the café, the entrepreneurial couple bootlegged moonshine during prohibition while their three sons, who would grow into Denver’s charismatic mobsters, were in and out of jail for any number of minor offenses. In the late 1940’s, sales were down in the café, so Clyde vowed to help his parents upon his latest release from jail. In 1947, Clyde moved the café to the present day location at 3760 Tejon and renamed it, Gaetano’s, Italian nickname for Clyde.

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