Cafe Society

Chefs Bryan Moscatello, James Mazzio both head for the hills

Ever wonder what happened to two of the Denver area's most heralded chefs? Head to the hills, where the dining scene heats up even as the temperature cools down.

That's where you'll find Bryan Moscatello, the chef at the groundbreaking Adega, which was the hottest restaurant in town when it opened opposite Union Station more than a decade ago, burning brightly before it burned out altogether. In fact, while he was at Adega, Moscatello was recognized by Food & Wine as one of America's Ten Best New Chefs. Before he came down to Denver to open that restaurant, though, he was the chef at the Little Nell in Aspen for eight years.

And now, after a decade away from Denver marked by gigs stretching from Deer Valley to D.C. to Chicago -- where most recently he was chef-partner at Storefront Company -- Moscatello is back at the Little Nell. He took up his post behind the burners of the hotel's Element 47 the start of this month. (Venice now occupies the former home of Adega.) See also: In Vino Veritas -- Jason Sheehan's review of Adega

Here's Element 47's take on Moscatello's return:

Bryan's style of cooking is truly the alpine mountain cuisine that put Aspen on the map, according to Little Nell General Manager Simon Chen. "He will continue to promote our farm-to-table ethos and devotion to great local products, but what guests should expect to see is a heartier approach to food with deeper flavors and sustenance."

Moscatello looks forward to working with the hotel's team of dedicated chefs and cooking dishes like Colorado lamb with charred local onion, sautéed kale and Yukon gold gnocchi with wild chanterelle mushrooms.

He also looks forward to getting back into Colorado's famous healthy lifestyle.

"I was so much healthier when I lived in Aspen," he said. "I can't wait to start snowboarding and mountain biking again."

Another Food & Wine winner is also back in the mountains. Food & Wine named James Mazzio 1999's Best New Chef when he was cooking at the legendary 15 Degrees in Boulder. After that restaurant closed, Mazzio worked at various ventures and eateries around Denver -- ranging from Neighborhood Flix to the also defunct Red Star Deli in the Ice House, which got a rave review from Gretchen Kurtz when Mazzio was in the kitchen.

And now things are looking up for Mazzio, too: This past summer he landed at The Edge at the Timberline in Snowmass, then moved on to Basalt, where he opened Sure Thing Burger last month. The restaurant in the center of town focuses on local produce, including local beef. A version of this story originally appeared in Cafe Bites, our weekly newsletter devoted to Denver's drinking and dining scene. Find out how to subscribe here.

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