While the loss of classic Italian eateries in the Highland and Sunnyside neighborhoods was punctuated by yesterday's lamentable closing of Patsy's after 95 years in business, there is some cause for celebration in north Denver. Despite issues with obtaining a cabaret license from the city, the Monkey Barrel is gearing up to reopen (after a move from Platte Street) — at least for lunch, and with Carbone's sandwiches on the menu courtesy of Tony Lonardo.
Lonardo is the son of Rosa and Nick Lonardo, who ran Carbone's Italian Sausage at 1221 West 38th Street for nearly forty years; he'll be serving hot meatball and sausage sandwiches plus ten cold sandwiches stacked with mortadella, prosciutto, capocollo and other deli meats. Monkey Barrel owner Jimmy Nigg will be able to open the kitchen as soon as he receives a certificate of occupancy from the city, which could happen as early as this Friday — but Nigg says September 1 is a more realistic date.
And while the push for a cabaret license that will allow the bar and restaurant to host live music is on hold until the end of the year, the Monkey Barrel will soon receive a liquor license to serve beer, wine and spirits. So Nigg plans to open for dinner beginning September 8, just in time for the Broncos home opener. The dinner menu will include the same roster of sandwiches, as well as Italian entrees and bar bites.
The bar will carry a larger selection of Colorado wines than the original Monkey Barrel, in order to complement the Italian menu. And if all goes as planned, Nigg will supplement his lineup of twenty local beers on tap with one South Carolina brew — Westbrook lemon-lime gose — as a Colorado-Carolina showdown to go along with the NFL season-opening Panthers vs. Broncos game.
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Phase one of the Monkey Barrel's move is nearly complete, and the second phase, which will add a second wing onto the north side of the building, will begin as soon as all permits are obtained. But the impending construction of old-school Italian sandwiches is what's on the mind of longtime neighborhood residents.
There's still a little construction cleanup to be done, but the Monkey Barrel will open soon.