There's a new power couple in the Golden restaurant scene — only they're not so new to Golden. Aimee and Dean Valdez have lived in the town for more than twenty years, and opened Miners Saloon in 2016. This week, they're opening the doors to Bella Colibri, an upscale Italian restaurant at 812 12th Street.
The story of Bella Colibri (which means "beautiful hummingbird" in Italian) began nearly three years ago, when the Valdezes took over the Old Capitol Grill — located in a historic building that was once the territorial capitol building, before Colorado even became a state — at 1122 Washington Avenue. They closed the restaurant and refurbished it, reopening as the Old Capitol Grill & Smokehouse (the aroma of barbecue wafting from the big smoker out back is a sign that you're close) in May 2017.
But the building had plenty of space in the back half, which once housed the territorial library, so the two made plans to open an Italian eatery there. "There are no Italian restaurants in downtown Golden," Dean points out, noting that it has long been a goal of his to open a restaurant that would honor his great-grandparents on his mom's side, who moved to Salida from Italy in the early part of the twentieth century.
And so, Bella Colibri will serve southern Italian dishes inspired by Dean's Calabrian ancestors, along with regional favorites from other parts of Italy, with an emphasis on seafood as well as lamb and other Colorado products, and with a menu that will be updated quarterly to reflect the changing seasons. Aimee notes that the restaurant will be an "upscale, white-tablecloth place," but one that will also have a relaxing atmosphere where friends and family can take the time to enjoy the food and wine.
Chef John Wilson, who also oversees the food at Miners Saloon (which skews toward charcuterie and housemade ingredients) and the Old Capitol Grill, has put together a menu that balances modern and traditional, so you'll find lasagna and meatballs spiced up with Calabrian chiles, but also crab with blood orange and citrus olive oil, and scallops with bacon, chard and cauliflower.
"We'll also have a unique bar program with a nice portfolio of Italian wines, as well as a few from California," Dean adds.
Bella Colibri opens Friday, November 1, and will be open Wednesday through Sunday from 5 to 9:30 p.m. Call 720-289-4859 or visit bellacolibri.com for reservations and details.
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