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An exclusive first look: Spuntino reopens today in Highland

An exclusive first look: Spuntino reopens today in Highland
Lori Midson

Dorina Miller, Yasmin Lozada-Hissom, the pastry chef at Duo and Olivea, and her husband, John Broening, executive chef of both restaurants, quietly re-opened Spuntino last week, the Italian cafe that Miller co-owned with Simone Parisi, who bowed out of Spuntino to concentrate on Parisi and Firenze a Tavola, his two co-cohabiting restaurants in Berkeley Park.

And on Friday night, the trio held a small dinner gathering for family, friends and neighborhood residents. "We're still trying to figure out the space, and like all kitchens, this one has quirks, but everything went great," says Broening. "Yasmin and I are really excited to be doing hand-crafted, Italian-influenced food, and I don't think anyone is doing the caliber of desserts and gelato that we're doing here," he adds.

The cafe, which officially reopened today at 11 a.m., continues to offer the incredible popsicles and gelato that originated with Parisi (Lozada-Hissom is now doing those, too, with all-natural ingredients), and throughout the week, Spuntino, which also features wines from Infinite Monkey Theorem, Boxcar coffee from Boulder, charcuterie, housemade pastas, beautiful salads, bruschetta and desserts, will be giving away free gelato samples.

"We love the Highland neighborhood, and we want to be a great spot where people can hang out. We want to give our best to the people who live here by offering them a place to come in for great coffee and really good, housemade food, and we thought we'd kick off the opening by giving away scoops of gelato," says Lozada-Hissom.

I had the opportunity to try several flavors of gelato last week, along with dishes from Broening's menu, and -- no surprise -- everything I sampled was terrific. Herewith, photos from the feast.

An exclusive first look: Spuntino reopens today in Highland
Lori Midson

Exec chef John Broening's porchetta. Amazing.

An exclusive first look: Spuntino reopens today in Highland
Lori Midson

Grain salad with farro, quinoa, red onions, sliced avocado, red and green leafy lettuce, cannellini beans from Grant Farms and cherry tomatoes.

An exclusive first look: Spuntino reopens today in Highland
Lori Midson

Country pâté accompanied by pickled onions, butter, mustard and baguette slices.

An exclusive first look: Spuntino reopens today in Highland
Lori Midson

Grilled asparagus specked with guanciale and crowned with a poached egg.

An exclusive first look: Spuntino reopens today in Highland
Lori Midson

Bruschetta sampler: sweet pea and housemade ricotta; guanciale, onions and stracchino; roasted beets, capers, goat cheese and toasted fennel seed; and brandade with lemon and black olives.

An exclusive first look: Spuntino reopens today in Highland
Lori Midson

Chimichurri-sauced sliced flank steak plated with sweet potato spheres.

An exclusive first look: Spuntino reopens today in Highland
Lori Midson

Housemade cavatelli with fresh greens and chanterelle mushrooms.

An exclusive first look: Spuntino reopens today in Highland
Lori Midson

Spuntino's dining room.

An exclusive first look: Spuntino reopens today in Highland
Lori Midson

Grilled chicken with greens, chorizo and cannellini beans.

An exclusive first look: Spuntino reopens today in Highland
Lori Midson

Orange olive oil torte paired with pistachio gelato, fennel sugar and candied kumquats.

An exclusive first look: Spuntino reopens today in Highland
Lori Midson

Spuntino's gelato display, which originated with previous owner Simone Parasi, and continues with Yasmin Lozada-Hissom.