When I first visited Sugarmill almost a year ago, it was the only spot on the buzzing strip of Larimer that offered brunch. Oh, how the times have changed. As a reflection of the crazy development in RiNo as a whole, as of a month ago both Americatus New-World Italian (formerly Amerigo Delicatus) and Los Chingones quietly started offering brunch service, giving neighbors a choice of three prime patios right in a row — but you wouldn’t know it from the Americatus website.
There's a chalkboard announcing brunch outside the tiny eatery and market, but there’s no menu online anywhere. Brunch seekers in the area seem to stumble upon it on accident (like I did), hopping between the three hot-spots to check out the menus before ultimately choosing a favorite. We decided to give Americatus a try first, having not been there since January’s re-branding (due to a trademark issue).
It’s pretty awesome that the new weekend hours at Americatus still fly under the radar, because the $10 brunch is a great deal. With all entrees setting you back just a ten-spot and drinks also reasonable and refreshing, it’s a great budget option — especially considering the trendy location. The front patio includes two communal tables playfully painted in red, white and green like the Italian flag. It was nice to have the place all to ourselves on a beautiful bluebird morning (unfortunately a rarity lately).
Mimosas are available in three quantities, from $6 by the glass to bottomless for $13 or $20 for a carafe (depending how much you want to indulge) but the $5 and $6 dollar specialty cocktails sounded too good to pass up. If you're looking for something above and beyond the standard brunch beverage, go with Americatus's version of a Greyhound with sparkling grapefruit Pellegrino — a light, summery twist on an old favorite that's perfect for patio drinking. The A.B.C. (Americatus Brunch Cocktail) was also delicious, with raspberry coulis, sparkling wine and house-made limoncello.
The menu is pretty simple, with variations on brunch staples, but everything is prepared well and with quality ingredients. We shared the omelette, breakfast sandwich, and Benedict. Both the breakfast sammie and the Benedict came on intimidatingly thick toasted baguettes, making the sandwich look more like a morning hoagie than a dainty egg creation. Despite the carb bomb, the bread softened and condensed with each bite, getting more manageable as we dug in. The sandwich was stuffed with eggs as you like (over medium for us), two healthy-sized strips of bacon, melty fontina cheese, arugula, tomatoes, and a basil pesto aioli. It’s exactly what I’d imagine myself eating in Italy — with all the signature ingredients, but minus the portion control (this was clearly made for Americans).
The Benny was equally massive thanks to the bread base, but that wasn’t the only unique thing about the presentation. Cooked somewhere between poached and hardboiled, the eggs and the Hollandaise seemed to sit in egg-shaped bowls, keeping the yolk and the sauce neatly confined to their containers. Enhanced with Canadian bacon, a strongly scented spinach and herb-roasted tomatoes, it again featured those traditional Italian flavors.
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I'm a bit of an egg purist, so my favorite dish of the morning was the omelette, because it involved no bread, but instead included a hearty mix of onions, peppers, spinach, pancetta and tomatoes — and was bursting with fontina cheesiness. The fold-over was topped with house-made ricotta so creamy it could have been mistaken for cottage cheese.
While brunch at Americatus won't stay hidden for long if the kitchen keeps turning out such satisfying fare, for now it’s a wonderful secret in a neighborhood full of attention-grabbing changes.