No. 68: Risotto frutti di mare from Firenze a Tavola
Upstairs, in the convivial, bright-lit dining room of Parisi, the tables are littered with irresistible airy pizzas and housemade pastas, frilly salads and hearty sandwiches, and there's not an empty seat in the house. Downstairs, in Firenze a Tavola, the rusticated, moodily-lit quarters curated with sconces, wine bottles -- all Italian -- stone and brick accents, blond wooden chairs and brown harvest tables, the mood is flavored with romancing couples, winos -- serious winos -- and the rest of us who congregate to take advantage of the monthly-changing menus from owner Simone Parisi, who only serves dinner in the subterranean hearth Wednesday through Saturday.
This month's board, tricked out with osso bucco, frito misto and several pastas, is one of the most challenging -- challenging, that is, for anyone who doesn't want to implode, because everything on the damn menu reads like a love letter to Italy, except that the descriptors aren't sappy, or wistful, but pure and present. Parisi has long been lauded for its risotto, made with Acquerello carnaroli rice, sown using organic farming methods, and while it's expensive, it's also one of the reasons why the risotto here is so perfect. The beads are creamy, plump and tender, streaked with the orange of saffron and soaked in a simple shellfish stock, and the shellfish -- an arrangement of butter-poached petite lobster tails, mussels and shrimp that retain their oceanic pride -- is cooked with the same mastery as the risotto.
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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 No. 84: Pork osso buco from Osteria Marco No. 83: Cazuela Colombiana from Cafe Brazil No. 82: Chicken potpie from Devil's Food No. 81: Sichuan braised beef noodle soup from Zoe Ma Ma No. 80: Larb nua from Taste of Thailand No. 79: Pork shank from Argyll No. 78: Truffo panino from Shangri-La Cafe No. 77: Pig-snout tacos from Guadalajara Authentic Mexican Buffet No. 76: Speck and maple ice cream from Pizzeria Basta No. 75: Tom yum goong from Thai Flavor No. 74: South African black ruff from TAG No. 73: Gumbo from Bistro One No. 72: New England clam chowder from Bittersweet No. 71: Celery and lime popsicle from Spuntino No. 70: Curried split pea soup from Modmarket No. 69: Mais pizza from Pizzeria Locale
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 2010 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.