Luciano's Pizza and Wings
The chicken wing took off in Buffalo, New York, so it's no wonder that the best chicken wings in town are made by a man who spent most of his life steeped in the near-mythological upstate New York pizza-and-wing scene. Kris Ferreri, owner of Luciano's Pizza and Wings, comes from a family whose Buffalo roots go back to the turn of the last century, and what he's brought to the Mile High City is a pitch-perfect copy of the best chicken wings in the world -- a fact that Ferreri never lets anyone forget. Available mild, medium or hot and served in multiples of ten with celery and blue-cheese sauce, just as God intended, Ferreri's wings are fried long, served steaming hot, and so good that even the most jaded Buffalo ex-pats have to admit that he's serving the real deal.

The chicken wing took off in Buffalo, New York, so it's no wonder that the best chicken wings in town are made by a man who spent most of his life steeped in the near-mythological upstate New York pizza-and-wing scene. Kris Ferreri, owner of Luciano's Pizza and Wings, comes from a family whose Buffalo roots go back to the turn of the last century, and what he's brought to the Mile High City is a pitch-perfect copy of the best chicken wings in the world -- a fact that Ferreri never lets anyone forget. Available mild, medium or hot and served in multiples of ten with celery and blue-cheese sauce, just as God intended, Ferreri's wings are fried long, served steaming hot, and so good that even the most jaded Buffalo ex-pats have to admit that he's serving the real deal.


Deluxe
Dylan Moore is one weird cat. He bailed on a promising career as a young chef, turning his back on the food world just when he, and California Cuisine, were at the height of their powers. But after more than a decade on the outside, he's picked up right up where he left off. At Deluxe, the food sometimes seems like we're still in 1991 in the L.A. Basin. This oddness is most pronounced in the masa-fried oyster shooters on Deluxe's small-plates menu -- an offering right out of the Jeremiah Tower playbook, with a half-dozen shellfish fried in masa and each served in pho spoons with a dot of salsa fresca and a blazing-hot smoked chile aioli. This dish may be on a time trip, but the destination is unbeatable. What comes around goes around.

Dylan Moore is one weird cat. He bailed on a promising career as a young chef, turning his back on the food world just when he, and California Cuisine, were at the height of their powers. But after more than a decade on the outside, he's picked up right up where he left off. At Deluxe, the food sometimes seems like we're still in 1991 in the L.A. Basin. This oddness is most pronounced in the masa-fried oyster shooters on Deluxe's small-plates menu -- an offering right out of the Jeremiah Tower playbook, with a half-dozen shellfish fried in masa and each served in pho spoons with a dot of salsa fresca and a blazing-hot smoked chile aioli. This dish may be on a time trip, but the destination is unbeatable. What comes around goes around.

Il Fornaio
Il Fornaio's crostini di polenta should go down in culinary history as one of the last, best, most original things anyone has managed to do with polenta, the must-have ingredient of the last decade. Here an order brings pan-fried squares -- like Italian finger sandwiches -- of crisp polenta topped with Italian ham, simple mozzarella, zucchini sliced thin as paper, Gorgonzola, prosciutto or mushrooms kicked up with a lace of black-truffle oil.

Il Fornaio's crostini di polenta should go down in culinary history as one of the last, best, most original things anyone has managed to do with polenta, the must-have ingredient of the last decade. Here an order brings pan-fried squares -- like Italian finger sandwiches -- of crisp polenta topped with Italian ham, simple mozzarella, zucchini sliced thin as paper, Gorgonzola, prosciutto or mushrooms kicked up with a lace of black-truffle oil.

They're simple little things, the soft-shell crabs at Chez Thuy -- deep-fried whole, with a beautiful golden batter crisp out of the oil and just a little spicy, the shells inside chewy, yielding and full of juicy meat. The accompanying nuoc mam fish sauce is bright as acetylene, so sharp that a sniff of it is dizzying, like a toot of model-airplane glue. So you can be forgiven if you go a little nuts when the crabs (served two or three to an order) are brought to the table with a whole garden of sides: lettuce for wrapping, rice noodles, mint, basil, what-have-you. Dig in with your fingers and create the ideal bite: It just might be the best crab you'll ever eat in your life.

They're simple little things, the soft-shell crabs at Chez Thuy -- deep-fried whole, with a beautiful golden batter crisp out of the oil and just a little spicy, the shells inside chewy, yielding and full of juicy meat. The accompanying nuoc mam fish sauce is bright as acetylene, so sharp that a sniff of it is dizzying, like a toot of model-airplane glue. So you can be forgiven if you go a little nuts when the crabs (served two or three to an order) are brought to the table with a whole garden of sides: lettuce for wrapping, rice noodles, mint, basil, what-have-you. Dig in with your fingers and create the ideal bite: It just might be the best crab you'll ever eat in your life.


Pim Fitt does two unusual things at Yummy Yummy Tasty Thai. First, she'll occasionally tour customers through her kitchen, showing how the dumplings are crimped, how the spring rolls are rolled. And second, with the exception of the pad thai, nothing her kitchen makes tastes like any Thai food you've tasted before. Odds are good she'll have something knocking around the periphery of her menu that you've never even heard of before but that still belongs to the canon of authentic Thai cuisine. The batter-fried spinach leaves, for example, dipped in sweet Thai peanut sauce. We'd never heard of anyone deep-frying a spinach leaf. And yet here comes Fitt, deep-frying spinach leaves as if it were the most normal thing in the world. And after just one taste, we had to wonder why no one had thought of it before.

Pim Fitt does two unusual things at Yummy Yummy Tasty Thai. First, she'll occasionally tour customers through her kitchen, showing how the dumplings are crimped, how the spring rolls are rolled. And second, with the exception of the pad thai, nothing her kitchen makes tastes like any Thai food you've tasted before. Odds are good she'll have something knocking around the periphery of her menu that you've never even heard of before but that still belongs to the canon of authentic Thai cuisine. The batter-fried spinach leaves, for example, dipped in sweet Thai peanut sauce. We'd never heard of anyone deep-frying a spinach leaf. And yet here comes Fitt, deep-frying spinach leaves as if it were the most normal thing in the world. And after just one taste, we had to wonder why no one had thought of it before.


Best Of Denver®

Best Of