As a restaurant and bar destination zone, Larimer Street just keeps getting better and better, especially in the blocks northeast of Park Avenue. The Populist was an early favorite when it opened in 2012, but others have joined in, including our Best New Restaurant, Hop Alley; our readers' choice for Best New Bar, Bar Fausto; and fun, unique stops like Sushi-Rama, Finn's Manor and Meadowlark Kitchen. And a new kid on the block will be joining the lineup this fall: Former chefs from Lower48 Kitchen will open Dio Mio Handmade Pasta at the corner of 33rd and Larimer Streets.
Chefs Alex Figura and Spencer White worked together at Lower48, along with their third partner, Theodore Francis "Teddy" Huckestein III. The trio is building out a casual, counter-service joint that will feature classic Italian pasta dishes along with house creations with Mediterranean and international influences.
"We want it to be fun," White explains, "with cooks running food to the tables."
"It will be more like a hangout spot: approachable, affordable and fun," Figura adds.
Part of that fun is visible in Dio Mio's new website, which is peppered with phrases like " Good Vibes. Artisanal Spaghetti Monsters" and "Macaroni necklaces, made fresh daily."
Even without the macaroni necklaces, Dio Mio will feature eight handmade pastas daily, plus gluten-free versions. There will also be salads, small appetizers and one or two large-format dishes like a ribeye steak or pork shoulder. Figura says that the menu will consist of several classic dishes that will always be available, plus other dishes that will rotate seasonally. And there will be a wide variety of size and price options to encourage sampling and sharing, with dishes ranging from $3 to $15 (though the large-format specials will be more) and pasta plates available in half or whole orders.
Figura has a fondness for working with doughs and flours, so heritage varieties of wheat and other grains will feature in the pasta program, and there will also be housemade breads and lunchtime Roman pizza (square-cut pies with a light, airy crust similar to focaccia).
White's passion is coffee, so Dio Mio will serve espresso drinks using beans from small, independent roasters from around the country. The restaurant will be open from 11 a.m to 9 or 10 p.m. daily, so he hopes that guests will come in for coffee and snacks to hang out, meet or work in between prime lunch and dinner hours.
The interior will be spartan, eclectic and DIY, with much of the work being done by White and Figura based on design from Nguyen Lawrence Architecture, the firm responsible for Hop Alley's design.
Figura and White don't have a firm opening date set; they're still waiting on landlord improvements to the building before they can get started. In the meantime, Dio Mio will be putting on pop-up dinners at Hop Alley and Uncle and showing up at events around town with beer-drinking food. To keep track of where they'll be, sign up for the Dio Mio e-mail newsletter on the restaurant's website.