No. 43: Italian combo #2 at Carbone's
We practically wept when the original Carbone's closed its doors, making good on a longtime threat from Lonardo family matriarch Rosa to exit the business. The original 38th Avenue storefront was short on space but long on charm, and it frequently commanded long lines of patrons, some of whom had patronized the place for decades, who stopped by for freshly ground sausage, Italian imports and sandwiches.
And, oh, those sandwiches. Carbone's was one of the only places in town where you could get an old-school Italian sandwich, you see — the kind that comes wrapped unceremoniously in white butcher paper and served with a side of colorful commentary, be it praise for, or a rant about, the family's most recent activities. You got meatballs or sausage or cold cuts and not much else — because these sandwiches were so good, you just didn't need bells or whistles.
We were overjoyed, then, when Carbone's came back to the Monkey Barrel, taking up residence in the kitchen of a bar that focuses on craft beer and Colorado spirits. But we worried a bit that it wouldn't be quite the same.
And it's not the same — you order your sandwich these days from an affable bartender, and you can eat it sitting in a booth while you drink a beer (which is admittedly better than wolfing your lunch down in your car in the parking lot). The deli case is gone, as are the coils of sausage inside, and there's no Rosa, waiting to regale you with her trials and tribulations.
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But this is still one hell of a sandwich, and we were happy to find that our trusty Italian combo #2 hasn't changed: It's still built on a crusty Italian loaf with a generous stack of soppresatta, mortadella, prosciutto and (in our case) provolone, plus the requisite shredded lettuce, slices of tomato, red onions, hot and sweet peppers and a lubricating splash of olive oil and vinegar.
It'll make you nostalgic for the old Denver Italian restaurants that are drying up — and glad this relic still exists to be celebrated.
Hungry for more? All of the dishes in our 2016 countdown are linked below.
No. 100: Masala Beef at Biju's Little Curry Shop
No. 99: Bacon Shrimp and Grits at Bacon Social House
No. 98: Porchetta and Kimchi Sandwich at Brider
No. 97: Squab-and-Sunchoke Tortellini at Abejas
No. 96: Housemade Burrata at Viand
No. 95: Schweinshaxe at Rhein Haus
No. 94 Kimchi Jeon at Seoul BBQ
No. 93: Zuppa Pomodoro at Parisi Italian Market & Deli
No. 92: The Ocean Salad at Sushi-Rama
No. 91: The Signature Bowl from Churn & Burn
No. 90: Green Chorizo at Los Compadres
No. 89: The Diavola Calzone at Pino's Neighborhood Pizzeria
No. 88: Biscuits and Green Chile at the Noshery
No. 87: Chirashi at Izu Sushi
No. 86: Brisket and Ribs at GQue Championship BBQ
No. 85: The Tornado at the Chowder Room
No. 84: Korean Fried Chicken Wings at Yong Gung
No. 83: A Meatball Hero at Lil' Ricci's New York Pizzeria
No. 82: Shakshuka at Stowaway Coffee + Kitchen
No. 81: Late-Night Ramen at Brazen
No. 80: Potato Tacos at El Tejado
No. 79: Corned Beef Heart at theWay Back
No. 78: The Fried Bologna Sandwich at Snarfburger
No. 77: Sweet Corn Mezzaluna at Bar Dough
No. 76: Duck Confit at Table 6
No. 75: Croque Monsieur at Fire
No. 74: Tahini Cookies at the Preservery
No. 73: The Alferd Packer Salad at MAD Greens
No. 72: The Tuna Poke Bowl at Ohana Island Kitchen
No. 71: Mini Chile Rellenos at La Loma
No. 70: The Combination Banh Mi at Vinh Xuong Bakery
No. 69: The Falafel Waffle at Moxie Eatery
No. 68: Korean Fried Duck Wings at Chow Urban Grill
No. 67: Spaghetti Alla Carbonara at Spatola
No. 66: The Classic Burger from Skirted Heifer
No. 65: The Chicken Salad Stuffed Avocado at Poppies
No. 64: Super Pass Key Special at Pass Key
No. 63: How the West Was Won at Dozens Restaurant
No. 62: Manzo With Polenta at Spuntino
No. 61: P & S Snack Mix at the Pig & the Sprout
No. 59-60: Sloppers at Gray's Coors Tavern and Diego's
No. 58: Potstickers at Zoe Ma Ma
No. 57: Griddle Cooked Bullfrog at Yum Yum Spice
No. 56: Macaroni and Cheese at Work & Class
No. 55: Lobster, Egg and Caviar Bruschetta at Bar Fausto
No. 54: Orecchiette at Coperta
No. 53: Cheese Steak at Steuben's Food Service
No. 52: PB&B Acai Bowl at ProsperOats
No. 51: Gold Miner's Breakfast at River and Woods
No. 50: Bison Pastrami at To The Wind Bistro
No. 49: Spicy Beef Hot Pot at Bronze Empire
No. 48: Brad's Neo Gyro at Avelina
No. 47: The Egg and Croissant Sandwich at La Fillette Bakery
No. 46: Smoked Brisket Stroganoff Pot Pie From Humble Pie and Kitchen Table
No. 45: Hisbiscus-Flower Tacos at Comal
No. 44: The Juicy Lucy at the Midwestern Saloon