Best German/Eastern European Restaurant 2023 | Molotov Kitschen + Cocktails | Best of Denver® | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Denver | Westword
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Molotov Kitschen

This small eatery, which opened in January 2023, is rooted in chef Bo Porytko's Ukrainian family culture while doubling as a rebellion concept in the lens of global conflict. Its Eastern European comfort food is akin to a warm hug, even if the dishes themselves may be unfamiliar to most of us in the West. The menu offerings at Molotov Kitschen + Cocktails are gorgeous platings of homestyle fare like braised-duck dumplings in a ruby-red borscht made from smoked sour cherries, glistening pork pâté pelmenis, and beet grits with pork shank, all served alongside frozen infused vodkas and Austrian Rieslings. Porytko has created a lively atmosphere in which to share his personal history through lovingly curated family recipes. All of it seems to carry a simple message in a flaming bottle: "From Ukraine with love."

Molly Martin

The Culinary Creative Group is a powerhouse on the Denver dining scene; it's behind such heavy-hitters as A5 Steakhouse, Señor Bear, Mister Oso and more. At Bar Dough, the group's Italian eatery in LoHi, chef Russell Stippich and his team excel at consistently delicious and creative fare, from pizza and pasta to small plates that highlight seasonal ingredients. The restaurant's most recent makeover brought in moody tones, making it a striking date-night destination, but it's equally impressive when you're sipping an Aperol spritz at the bar during happy hour or indulging in the weekend brunch.

Best Non-Traditional Italian Restaurant

Spuntino

Spuntino

Ever since chef Cindhura Reddy and her husband, Elliot Strathmann, took over the Spuntino space in 2014, the menu has slowly evolved based on the chef's heritage and the couple's travels. What started as a restaurant dedicated to locally sourced, handcrafted Italian fare has now shifted, meshing those European techniques with flavors from India, a nod to Reddy's upbringing. This means the ever-changing menu might showcase malai kofta gnocchi with cashews and Indian-spiced tomato sauce, an entree of yogurt-and-spice-marinated cauliflower, or wild elk tartare with ginger, garlic and a toasted masala aioli. Diners will recognize plenty of other Italian dishes, too, such as fresh burrata di bufala, hand-rolled capellini, charcuterie and arancini, which comes spiked with another non-Italian ingredient, Hatch green chiles from New Mexico.

Molly Martin

This Englewood eatery may have debuted less than five years ago, but it has all the markings of a classic. The family behind Gallo is from Sicily and takes pride in regional inspiration, as seen in creations like the limoncello made with the addition of cream. The space is split between a bakery counter and a sit-down dining area complete with a full bar. As diners dig into savory sausage cannolis, chicken parm and lasagna Bolognese, the staff marches tray after tray of Italian cookies and lobster tail pastries over to the bakery counter, where you can load up on treats to devour at home.

Molly Martin

Since 1976, the family-owned Italian market and deli that is Carmine Lonardo's has been a community staple for an assortment of goods, including imported pasta of all shapes and sizes, olive oil, canned goods, frozen foods such as housemade sausages, and so much more. But this is one place where you should shop hungry, because it also has some of the best sandwiches around — huge, messy masterpieces made on freshly baked rolls that you can custom-order with that Italian sausage and a variety of other hot or cold meats.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles-themed Casey Jones opened in Baker in May 2022, bringing yet another pizza option to an area where pies are plentiful. But the slices here are a standout, largely because of the skill and passion of pizza chef Mat Shumaker, a native New Yorker with some strong opinions, including a ban on ranch (though you can bring your own) and pineapple. Whole pies are available, but the slices — cheese, pepperoni or the chef's special of the day ($3-$5) — come out quickly and are loaded with melty mozzarella for some cartoon-worthy cheese pulls. Cowabunga!

Danielle Lirette

White Pie, a sleek Uptown eatery that also has a location in Colorado Springs and is one of the few pizzerias that serve brunch, is known for its New Haven-style pizzas — on the thinner side and more oval than round. But you don't have to be familiar with the regional take to be impressed as you watch the chefs load pies into the wood-burning oven that centers the bright, airy room. Not surprisingly, the white pies are standouts, but so are the House Puff — a signature starter of ultra-puffy pizza dough — the burrata and the meatballs. We recommend going with a group that likes to share lots of food.

The Greenwich

In 2021, owner Delores Tronco and chef Justin Freeman opened the Greenwich, an homage to New York City. While it's far more than a place for pizza, the pies stand out thanks to an expertly made sourdough crust loaded with toppings that push traditional boundaries, such as pickled pineapple and bacon jam, or whipped mascarpone, Gruyère and creamed leeks. The rest of the menu is filled with taste-tempters, but don't worry about over-ordering, because these pizzas also make great leftovers.

Best Central/South American Restaurant (not Mexican)

Lucina Eatery & Bar

Molly Martin

Create Kitchen & Bar co-owners Erasmo "Ras" Casiano and Diego Coconati set out to open a Latin eatery that honored the food they grew up eating, which includes taking inspiration from a variety of places, from Mexico and Argentina to Peru, Venezuela and Puerto Rico. The result is Lucina, named for Casiano's mother, which debuted in March 2022. The sleek space is filled with pops of color that echo the vibrant fare, like agua chile negro, the mojo pork chop and the ever-changing paella of the moment, which is available only on Fridays and Saturdays.

Best New Mexican/Filipino Mashup

Adobo

Molly Martin

Taking inspiration from his roots in New Mexico and his family's Filipino heritage, Blaine Baggao launched Adobo as a food truck in 2016, quickly building a following for staples like lumpia and green chile with smoked carnitas. He then expanded, adding a location inside First Draft in RiNo, and in 2022, he added his first stand-alone brick-and-mortar on Federal. In addition to offering a full menu of tantalizing options, including tacos, wings and chicken adobo, the spacious restaurant has plenty of room for big groups, hosts live music on the weekends and has a full bar.

Best Of Denver®

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