No. 84: Pork osso buco from Osteria Marco
Osteria Marco is Frank Bonanno's homage to the hog, a ward of house-crafted charcuterie, pizzas tarped with prosciutto, puddings laced with pork fat, and Sunday-night pig roasts. The subterranean enterprise -- a sound system of ruckus and racket pinging off the ceilings and walls and high-voltage testosterone bouncing off the bar stools, where there's a constant crush of bodies, especially on weekends -- is packed with those smitten with swine.
Nearly everything that comes out of the downstairs kitchen -- and from the upstairs garde manger station, whose centerpiece is a blood-red meat slicer -- is terribly delicious, a playbook of conversation-piece dishes that translates into moans and groans in the clamorous dining room. But the pork osso buco - oh, God, the pork osso buco -- may very well be Bonanno's biggest bestowal yet on pig freaks. The braised hunk of meat, only slightly smaller than a manhole cover, is penetratingly rustic, the flesh pulling away from the bone with a mere flinch of the fork. The beast is tamed with fresh spinach leaves skimming across the surface of a garlicky borlotti bean ragout, its liquid haunted by fresh thyme and onions. There were seven of us the night we had this dish, and it was all we could do not to kill each other in a shameless attempt to steal the last bite.
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Hungry for more? All the dishes in our countdown are linked below:
No. 100: Italian wedding soup from the Squeaky Bean No. 99: American Classic Burger (and fries) from Tarbell's No. 98: E's clam linguini from Mangiamo Pronto No. 97: Queso a la plancha taco from the Pinche Tacos wagon No. 96: Prosciutto-wrapped jalapeño poppers from Tony's Market No. 95: Fried chicken from the Pinyon No. 94: Seafood soup from Farro No. 93: Posole from The Porker No. 92: Breakfast Burrito from the Taco Wagon in Lafayette No. 91: Hummus from Shish Kabob Grill No. 90: Albondigas meatballs from Solera No. 89: Lemon-ricotta doughnuts from Olivéa No. 88: Döner kabob from Shondiz No. 87: Roasted cauliflower salad from Euclid Hall No. 86: Beef cheek enchiladas from El Diablo No. 85: Fried Brussels sprouts from Panzano In late 2009, we embarked on a culinary journey that took us through our favorite dishes in the Mile High City -- one hundred, to be exact -- as a precursor to the Best of Denver issue. Now we're back with round two, counting down (in no particular order) a hundred more of our favorite Denver dishes in a list that, by our imperfect calculations, should be wrapped up by the time the Best of Denver 2011 hits the streets on March 31. 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@example.com.