Chef Brian Laird Out at Sarto's

When Sarto's opened in the Jefferson Park neighborhood last October, Denver diners familiar with chef Brian Laird's flair for Italian cuisine from his days at Denver classic Barolo Grill were excited to sample his new menu and grab a seat at the cicchetti bar, where Laird stitched together an array of small plates personalized to each group's preferences. But when she at there for her reviews, restaurant critic Gretchen Kurtz found that the tailor-made menu had some ill-fitting choices. And now it seems that Laird is no longer part of the fabric of Sarto's; the restaurant announced today that it has parted ways with the executive chef.

The kitchen will continue to be run by chefs James Rugile, who joined the staff two months ago (and who folks may remember from the short-lived but excellent Venue and his time working with Paul Reilly at Beast + Bottle), Ryan Baldwin and Ivan Ceballos. Although the announcement from Sarto's, which is owned by Taylor and Kajsa Swallow, does not go into detail about the reasons for Laird's departure, it does say that a new spring menu is on the way and that weekend brunch service is also in the works, most likely to begin after Mother's Day.

"Brian's a very talented chef and of course I wish him the best," adds Taylor Swallow. "It's a difficult decision but one that's ultimately in the best interest of Sarto's."

Under the guidance of the new team, the cicchetti bar may undergo some minor changes, but Swallow says "it will continue to be the ultimate tailored dining experience." He also adds that Sarto's market next door continues to pick up steam as a neighborhood gathering spot for lunch and that customers are starting to utilize the space in the evening, too, for small bites and drinks. Since the market's patio is on the north side of the building, it hasn't been set up for customers yet, but will be available beginning this weekend.

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