Colorado Rapids' team captain Pablo Mastroeni goes for quaint when he's not cooking at home

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Pablo Mastroeni's yearning to cook was inspired by the Food Network, so when he got a chance to appear on Emeril Live a few years back, he jumped at the opportunity. The two-time World Cup player and formidable midfielder and team captain for the Colorado Rapids calls the experience -- no joke -- "one of the greater achievements of my life."

Where does Mastroeni like to dine when he's not busy on the soccer field? While he usually cooks at home -- pasta with white wine butter sauce, crab and radicchio was a recent creation -- he goes out on occasion, preferring restaurants a bit off the beaten path. We recently caught up with Mastroeni and asked him about his last meal out in Denver.

"The last place I went was Hana Matsuri," Mastroeni recalls. He likes the Westminster Japanese fusion restaurant for a number of reasons: "It's really good food, the presentation is really nice and the service is really nice," he says.

"I like salmon, so I'll do, like, an Alaska roll," Mastroeni says, adding that he also likes the chef's choice sashimi, "because there's always something interesting that comes out of that."

He fondly recalls one of the restaurant's recent creations. "They took the skin of a tuna and used it as a base to hold a tuna tartare-type concoction. They deep-fried the skin and made it into a crazy bite of tuna, with different different textures and layers."

On Hana Matsuri's service, he explains, "It's always good when you can talk to the guy [chef/co-owner Eddie Wang] that runs the whole show. There's always new specials, new fish that [Wang] just went and picked up that day."

Mastroeni also likes the homey quality about the restaurant. "It's really easy to have a conversation in there," he says. "It's got a nice vibe to it. You feel welcome. It's almost like you're at home with a personal chef."

Mastroeni will be welcoming guests himself during the upcoming month-long World Cup. While he's headed to Vegas for this Saturday's face-off between England and the United States, he'll be hosting family in his home in Broomfield for many of the other games.

"There's nothing better than making [food] and sharing it with others," he says.

Mastroenie has played for the Rapids since 2002 and for Major League Soccer since 1998. He played for the U.S. National Team in the World Cup in both 2002 and 2006. (Daringly, he predicts the United States will win this year's coveted trophy.)

Hana Matsuri is owned by Steve and Jessie Liu and chef Eddie Wang in what was formerly the Village Bistro. The restaurant can be reached at 303-404-9888.

Curious about the dining habits of other local celebs? Send an e-mail to cafe@westword.com.

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