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100 Favorite Dishes: Truffo panino from Shangri-La Cafe

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No. 78: Truffo panino from Shangri-La Cafe

For several years, Massimo Ruffinazzi, who was born and raised in Casteggio, Lombardia Italy, was chef/partner at Il Fornaio, an Italian restaurant that once occupied prime real estate in LoDo, before it shuttered (the Tech Center location still stands) and was resurrected last year as Big Game. Il Fornaio has always been lauded, if, for nothing else, its breads, and Ruffinazzi is a bona fide bread-head and consummate counterman, turning out loaves of love at Shangri-La Cafe, his groovy java and sandwich cafe in Highland.

His menu -- salads, a salumi plate and a pantheon of panini -- is simple, unpretentious and tiny, but the panini ooze with big flavors, none more so than the truffo, a sandwich definitely worth the jostle for a table, the majority of which are occupied by laptop-toting studious types. Ruffinazzi uses a custom-baked bread from Il Fornaio, sandwiching the halves of pressed bread, properly baked so they yield the ideal amount of chew and crackle, with arugula leaves and weightless shavings of Parma prosciutto, its richness bolstered by melted slices of Fontina and an exquisite wild mushroom spread lightly whiffed with truffle. It could be larger; it could be available past 3 p.m., when Ruffinazzi closes his doors; but good luck finding one that's better.

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

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 lori.midson@westword.com.

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