There's no replacing Patsy’s, which closed two years ago after 95 years serving Italian food in northwest Denver, but the new tenant, Acova, is doing its best to maintain a connection with the neighborhood and its history. Acova honors that history with a mosaic of floor tiles from the old restaurant and the repurposing of Patsy's pasta machine into a new host station. And it welcomes the neighborhood every weekend for brunch in a laid-back atmosphere with a unique menu and kid-friendly outdoor dining area.
Let’s start with drinks, always a highlight of any brunch experience. The Kombucha Curemosa caught my eye, since it's made with an unusual combination of kombucha (Acova uses Happy Leaf) and champagne. It’s the perfect drink for someone who cares about their digestive health but not their liver. That said, its a refreshing cocktail with a little sweetness from the kombucha and a waft of fresh herbs with every sip from the sprig of mint on top. I also tried the Misty, a red and white wine slushy made with organic South African wine. The pretty swirls of red and white make for an enticing but not overly sweet drink, punctuated with a paper straw. Manager Tyler James notes that paper straws are the future, even though eventually he would like to the make the restaurant entirely straw-free.
Do you wish you could have blueberry pie for breakfast? Acova and Sugar Bakeshop are making your dreams come true with blueberry "pop tarts." The beautiful pastry is made with a crumbly pie crust, sweet blueberry filling, blueberry frosting and a dusting of powdered sugar.
Frittatas aren't a common brunch offering in Denver, which is why the vegetable frittata at Acova called my name. The vegetable fillings rotate weekly, and this weekend was asparagus, onions, herbs and cheddar. The eggs were fluffy, the asparagus and onions were still crisp and the cheddar was plentiful. It came with a dense biscuit (good for smothering in Acova's homemeade jam) and generously salted home fries, crunchy on the outside and fluffy inside.
In addition to traditional breakfast dishes, Acova's brunch boasts lobster mac and cheese, burgers and a variety of salads. The Düsseldorfer burger sounded too good to be true; I didn't believe all of the ingredients listed — a bratwurst sausage patty, fried egg, bacon and sausage gravy — could actually fit into the pretzel bun as advertised. Turns out, there was no false advertising. Everything fit, even if it was a mess to eat, but all the yolk and gravy just gave additional sauce for the side of potatoes.
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Acova lures families with a Montessori-style play area in the back of the building and other activities for kids on the large side patio. And the restaurant donates $2 from every kids' meal to a local children’s charity.
"Filling Patsy’s shoes is a tall order, but we try to keep its legacy going," James adds. "We even have Peroni on tap and serve ossobuco. We didn’t just buy the building, we bought the history."
Acova is located at 3651 Navajo and serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, visit the restaurant's website or call 303-736-2718. Hot tip: Acova's menu is filled with vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free choices, with many other dishes that can be made so on request, making it a great place for anyone with dietary restrictions. In fact, the batter and breading for all fried items are gluten-free.