100 Favorite Dishes

100 Favorite Dishes: Butternut Squash Ravioli at DiFranco's

No. 61: The Butternut Squash Ravioli at DiFranco's 955 Lincoln Street, Suite D 720-253-1244

When DiFranco's opened in the Beauvallon Building, we held out hope that the little Italian deli would make it on a block that for a time was one of Denver's biggest restaurant black holes. But after a little over two years, DiFranco's is still turning out some of the best Italian in town, serving customers on the go as well as the few diners who stick around in the tiny eatery, which only seats 27. The menu is small too, featuring a seasonally changing list of hand-made pastas (which you can see being made from the view of the open kitchen), sandwiches and salads. This season, the fall flavors of the butternut squash ravioli is what has captured our attention.

See also: 100 Favorite Dishes of 2014

The ravioli themselves are tender pillows of orange-hued puree tucked between thin layers of pasta, rolled and cooked to just the right toothsome texture. The sauce is a creamy butter-based blend of citrus and sage that clings to the pasta and adds herbal depth without drowning out the nutty flavor of the squash.

Shreds of soft and succulent braised beef shoulder add heartiness and a drizzle of olive oil lends rustic appeal with light fruitiness. Crumbled amaretti cookies -- a traditional Italian topping for pumpkin and squash ravioli -- give a touch of sweetness and almond flavor. The whole dish is cozy and wholly appropriate for colder weather. The sage, almond, butter and squash combine to form a burst of nostalgia-inducing holiday cheer. It's the perfect dish to remind us that even in these cold and dark months, the rich pleasure of winter food is one of the simple things that gets us through until bright flavors of spring appear.

In advance of the Best of Denver 2015, we're already loading our plates with contenders for the best dishes in the city. And over the next nine months, we'll be sharing many of them with you, counting down (in no particular order) one hundred of our favorite dishes before the the Best of Denver 2015 hits the streets on March 26. In the meantime, if there's a dish you think we need to try, tell us about it in the comments section below, or shoot us an e-mail at [email protected]

Hungry for more? All the dishes in our 2014 countdown are linked below.

No. 100: Chile Relleno at La Fiesta No. 99: Gurage Kitfo at Megenagna Ethiopian Restaurant No. 98: Cochinita Pibil at Work & Class No. 97: The Greggers Tongue Sandwich at Olive & Finch No 96: Baum Cakes at Glaze by Sasa No. 95: Goat hot pot from Viet's No 94: Head cheese from Beast + Bottle No. 93: Kettle Chips from Amerigo Delicatus No. 92: Pork Belly Confit at Solera Restaurant and Wine Bar No. 91: Tacos Campechanos from La Calle Taqueria No. 90: Biscuits from Denver Biscuit Co. No. 89: Clams and Chorizo at Gozo No. 88: Aburi Sushi at Sushi Den and Izakaya Den No. 87: Kimchi and Sausage Torta at City, O' City No. 86: Mar y Tierra Molcajete at Paxia No. 85: Crispy Pork Spare Ribs at Table Top No. 84: Chips and Dip at Euclid Hall No. 83: Chile Relleno Burrito at El Taco de Mexico No. 82: Scallop Crudo at Stoic & Genuine No. 81: Ceylon Curry Dosa at Khazana No. 80: The Lambada Torta at La Torteria No. 79: Pork Bulgogi at Dae Gee No. 78: the Pulled Pork Pig Pen Sandwich at Boney's No. 77: IPA Mac & Cheese at Hops & Pie No. 76: Chiles en Nogada at Chili Verde No. 75: Udon Noodle Bowl at Bones No. 74: Cinnamon Rolls at the Duffeyroll Cafe No. 73: Smoked Turkey Croque-Madame at Acorn No. 72: Pickled Lake Michigan Perch at Trillium No. 71: Oysters at Jax Fish House Glendale No. 70: Venezuelan Tostadas at Empanada Express Grill No. 69: Tahini Cauliflower from Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs No. 68: The Ham and Cheese Tartita from Maria Empanada No. 67: Ronnie's Favorite from Rosenberg's Bagels and Deli No. 66: Shoo-fly Pie from the Long i Pie Shop No. 65: Czech Potato Pancakes at Sobo 151 No. 64: Fried Chicken at the Post Brewing Co. No. 63: Braised Brisket Sandwich at Masterpiece Delicatessen No. 62: The Scotch Egg from Argyll Whisky Beer

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