The Ten Best Old-School Italian Restaurants in Denver

The Ten Best Old-School Italian Restaurants in Denver

A restaurant doesn't have to be old to be old-school, but character and experience certainly add to the charm. Even if a red-sauce joint doesn't have the best Italian cuisine in the city, the combination of history, welcoming service (like being at mama's table for Sunday dinner), and good, hearty Italian-American pasta dishes can add up to something special. Here's a list of our ten favorite old-school Italian restaurants in the metro area.

See also: Twelve Denver Restaurants That Have Hit Fifty -- and Are Still in the Family

The Ten Best Old-School Italian Restaurants in Denver
Danielle Lirette

10) Saucy Noodle 727 South University Boulevard 303-733-6977 The Saucy Noodle just celebrated 50 years in business under the same family ownership this year; owner Erin Markham took over in the 1990s from her grandfather Sam Badis. Our restaurant critic Gretchen Kurtz, in her recent review of the garlic-loving joint, noted that the "attitude, like the food itself, was nothing if not friendly, a personification of the family that has run the Saucy Noodle for all these years." Don't expect anything fancy -- just the same meatballs, pastas, pizzas and family atmosphere that have been keeping Bonnie Brae neighbors coming back for decades.

The Ten Best Old-School Italian Restaurants in Denver

9) Carl's Pizzeria 3800 West 38th Avenue 303-477-1694 From 38th Avenue, it's easy to drive right past Carl's; the facade and aging sign are welcoming more to those who know this part of town as North Denver than to trendsetters restaurant-hopping from LoHi to Sunnyside to Berkeley. An old-time neighborhood Italian joint serving good spaghetti and meatballs, manicotti and pizza, Carl's sits in a no-man's land between those hip 'hoods. Dinners come with bread and soup or salad. It's nothing fancy -- you can even buy spaghetti with meat sauce by the pint or quart.

The Ten Best Old-School Italian Restaurants in Denver

8) Lechuga's 3609 Tejon Street 303-455-1502 Lechuga's got its start in the 1960s as Carbone's Bakery, and although Chuck Lechuga and Rachael Vigil, owners since 1989, just retired and sold the place, Lechuga's is still the place to go for the famous canolis, a mainstay of this northwest Italian eatery since the two took over. Glassed-in shelves house trays piled high with sausages and meatballs encased in sheaths of golden crust, handwritten labels distinguishing "hot" from "mild," "meatball" from "devil" and, though it hardly needs explanation, "mini" from the rest.

Keep reading for more of our favorite Italian-American eateries.



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