Radda is a great restaurant, but it’s also a comfortable restaurant, an unassuming restaurant, a restaurant where families come to eat penne al cinghiale and chicken soup in a parmesan broth, made with winter vegetables, lemon and faro, and where rogue CU economics professors sit and argue vehemently about the Bush tax cuts over plates of golden-brown pressed chicken and small bowls of rosemary-roasted fingerling potatoes. In Manhattan, Radda would be wickedly successful -- the sort of roots Italian joint that inspires the swells to fight each other in the streets for a place on the waiting list. In Chicago, it would be feted like the Second Coming -- over-boosted by those foodies still pissed that they can’t get Batali to open a place in their area code. In Vegas, it would be turned into some faux-Tuscan set-piece complete with wandering shepherds and the smell of grape arbors pumped in by compressors. But in Boulder? It’s just a little spot in a retro strip mall, with plenty of parking and always room for another table, another party, another restaurant critic waiting to sing its praises.
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SHOW ME HOW
Which is exactly what I’ve done this week: sing the praises of Radda Trattoria, a small, unassuming neighborhood joint (read: not on the Pearl Street Mall) and of its owner, Matt Jansen, who was wise enough to let a trattoria be a trattoria. Here’s how much I liked this place: I refused to eat at a similar (though less wonderful) restaurant in Denver over the weekend simply because I didn’t want its second-bestness overshadowing my memories of dining at Radda.
Read all about it in the latest Café, where I also chat with uber-chef Kevin Taylor about the fast closure of his Prima outpost in Boulder, and with James Mazzio about changing seasons and changing menus.
And a reminder: I’m buried in Best of Denver research, and I could use your help. For the next few weeks I’ll be eating and writing pretty much non-stop – and if you’ve got suggestions for the best burger, the greatest gelato, the coolest bathrooms or the hottest bartender, speak now or forever hold your peace. You can e-mail suggestions to email@example.com or just comment below. – Jason Sheehan