Food News

Chef Samir Mohammad Turns Bettola Bistro Over to Enrique Socarras

Risotto with cubes of eggplant parmesan show Bettola's playful side.
Risotto with cubes of eggplant parmesan show Bettola's playful side. Mark Antonation
Samir Mohammad and Rachel Firestone have been running the tiny Bettola Bistro in Aurora for the past year and a half, turning out soulful Italian cooking in a warm and welcoming environment. Despite its unlikely location in a strip mall at 10253 East Iliff Avenue, the bistro made our list of the best Italian restaurants in 2019. But Mohammad and Firestone are packing up for a new adventure outside of Colorado.

Rather than close up shop entirely, though, Mohammad is turning over his kitchen to Enrique Socarras, another chef with a long Denver résumé. Socarras earned notice at Cuba Cuba back in the early 2000s, and more recently spiced up breakfast as the opening chef at Revelry Kitchen in 2015. Mohammad and Firestone, meanwhile, are moving to Indiana to open their own restaurant. Here's the note they left on Bettola's Facebook page today:

click to enlarge Inside the cozy Bettola Bistro in Aurora. - MARK ANTONATION
Inside the cozy Bettola Bistro in Aurora.
Mark Antonation
Thank you to all of our guests who have made Bettola Bistro a great success! We have wholeheartedly enjoyed getting to know you over the past year and a half, and are deeply grateful for your support.

We have jumped on an amazing opportunity to open a restaurant in Noblesville, Indiana, where we will be sole owners and have the support of family nearby. Keep up with our new adventure by following 9th Street Bistro - a European-inspired Bistro in historic downtown Noblesville, just North of Indianapolis.

We are excited to see Bettola Bistro continue to deliver great food and hospitality under the direction of Chef Enrique Socarras.

Thank you again for all of your support. We hope to see you whenever you are in Indiana!

9th Street Bistro

Bettola came into existence in June 2018 as part of a restaurant shuffle from Sue Smith, who ran Cody's Cafe & Bar and New Orient Vietnamese Seafood in the same shopping center. Smith closed New Orient and moved Cody's into that space, then opened Bettola where Cody's had been, with Mohammad as the chef.

As chefs, Mohammad and Socarras share similar styles: They're both low-key and prefer to let their cooking speak for itself. We wish Mohammad and Firestone all the best with 9th Street Bistro, and we're certain Socarras will carry on Bettola's mission of surprising diners with great food in its "hole-in-the-wall" location. 
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Mark Antonation is the former Westword Food & Drink Editor. In 2018, he was named Outstanding Media Professional by the Colorado Restaurant Association; he's now with the Colorado Restaurant Foundation.
Contact: Mark Antonation