Radda is a great restaurant, but it’s also a comfortable restaurant, an unassuming restaurant, a restaurant where families come to eat penne al cinghiale and chicken soup in a parmesan broth, made with winter vegetables, lemon and faro, and where rogue CU economics professors sit and argue vehemently about the Bush tax cuts over plates of golden-brown pressed chicken and small bowls of rosemary-roasted fingerling potatoes. In Manhattan, Radda would be wickedly successful -- the sort of roots Italian joint that inspires the swells to fight each other in the streets for a place on the waiting list. In Chicago, it would be feted like the Second Coming -- over-boosted by those foodies still pissed that they can’t get Batali to open a place in their area code. In Vegas, it would be turned into some faux-Tuscan set-piece complete with wandering shepherds and the smell of grape arbors pumped in by compressors. But in Boulder? It’s just a little spot in a retro strip mall, with plenty of parking and always room for another table, another party, another restaurant critic waiting to sing its praises.
Which is exactly what I’ve done this week: sing the praises of Radda Trattoria, a small, unassuming neighborhood joint (read: not on the Pearl Street Mall) and of its owner, Matt Jansen, who was wise enough to let a trattoria be a trattoria. Here’s how much I liked this place: I refused to eat at a similar (though less wonderful) restaurant in Denver over the weekend simply because I didn’t want its second-bestness overshadowing my memories of dining at Radda.
Read all about it in the latest Café, where I also chat with uber-chef Kevin Taylor about the fast closure of his Prima outpost in Boulder, and with James Mazzio about changing seasons and changing menus.
And a reminder: I’m buried in Best of Denver research, and I could use your help. For the next few weeks I’ll be eating and writing pretty much non-stop – and if you’ve got suggestions for the best burger, the greatest gelato, the coolest bathrooms or the hottest bartender, speak now or forever hold your peace. You can e-mail suggestions to [email protected] or just comment below. – Jason Sheehan