Panzano Hires New Executive Chef Patrick Kelly

Smoked trout with potato confit and pickled mustard seeds.EXPAND
Smoked trout with potato confit and pickled mustard seeds.
Mark Antonation

Since chef Elise Wiggins left Panzano after more than a decade to open her own restaurant, Cattivella, the search has been on for a new executive chef at the Italian eatery on the ground floor of the Hotel Monaco downtown. Despite being part of the Kimpton hotel group, Panzano has always taken pride in being a chef-driven destination eatery catering as much to Denver diners as to hotel guests. In fact, in the restaurant's eighteen-year run, there have only been three executive chefs (one of those was Jennifer Jasinski, who went on to open Rioja and several other LoDo establishments). And now a fourth has been named: chef Patrick Kelly, who comes to Panzano with an impressive list of Bay Area eateries on his résumé. 

Kelly is no stranger to this part of the country, though. He was born in Fremont, Nebraska, and also lived in Cheyenne, Wyoming, where he first fell in love with restaurant kitchens while working as a busboy at a little place called L'Osteria Mondello. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, he eventually made his way to Yountville and Napa in California's wine country, then worked in several prominent Bay Area establishments, including La Folie, Angèle and the Au Bon Repas group, where he was executive chef of culinary operations over five restaurants. Most recently, Kelly was the opening executive chef at Lure + Till.

Kelly describes his cooking style as anchored in local and seasonal ingredients, as evidenced by a new menu rich in fall flavors and produce — cauliflower, turnips, radicchio, Tuscan kale and celery root, to name a few. And, of course, this season also brings Italian and French truffles to Panzano's table; Kelly uses them on several pasta dishes and entrees. 

While Kelly brings his own style to Panzano, he's also maintaining certain themes that have made the restaurant distinct: handmade pastas (including a few rarities like tajarin, lumache and cresta del gallo), a good variety of meatless options and a gluten-free menu that has become known as one of the best in town.

Kelly has been adding his own dishes to the menu over the past several weeks to allow his crew to master each plate, but the full menu is now available, including a five-course tasting tour for $65 per person. Here's a look at a few of the new dishes, from antipasti to dessert.

Sformato: a Parmigiano reggiano custard with pumpkin purée and black olive.EXPAND
Sformato: a Parmigiano reggiano custard with pumpkin purée and black olive.
Mark Antonation
Piedmontese tajarin pasta with an egg yolk, turnip cream and shaved white truffle.EXPAND
Piedmontese tajarin pasta with an egg yolk, turnip cream and shaved white truffle.
Mark Antonation
Gnocchi with lobster, crab and bottarga.EXPAND
Gnocchi with lobster, crab and bottarga.
Mark Antonation
Lumache "snail shell" pasta with scallop crudo, parsley pesto and Burgundy truffle.EXPAND
Lumache "snail shell" pasta with scallop crudo, parsley pesto and Burgundy truffle.
Mark Antonation
Arctic char with smoked-celery root purée.EXPAND
Arctic char with smoked-celery root purée.
Mark Antonation
Black cod, calamari, clams and baccala served in a minestrone broth with Italian beans.EXPAND
Black cod, calamari, clams and baccala served in a minestrone broth with Italian beans.
Mark Antonation
Chicken roulade with cresta del gallo pasta and foie gras jus.EXPAND
Chicken roulade with cresta del gallo pasta and foie gras jus.
Mark Antonation
Duck breast, turnip, kale, apple and pearl barley.EXPAND
Duck breast, turnip, kale, apple and pearl barley.
Mark Antonation
The bisteca Fiorentina is a 32-ounce porterhouse for two.EXPAND
The bisteca Fiorentina is a 32-ounce porterhouse for two.
Mark Antonation
A gelato cylinder with spiced cake and raspberry coulis.EXPAND
A gelato cylinder with spiced cake and raspberry coulis.
Mark Antonation
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