Back in June, when I first reported that chef-restaurateur Dylan Moore was closing Deluxe and Juanita's, the two adjoining spaces he owned on South Broadway, I also revealed that both restaurants had been snatched up by Frank Jolley, a longtime restaurateur and nightclub owner who had most recently spent the last few years in Napa Valley. When I interviewed Jolley in early June, his hope was that he'd open Gozo, the restaurant that now occupies both of Moore's former spaces, by August of last year, but permitting issues and inspections significantly slowed down his progress. But finally, after months of impatience, Gozo, named for the idyllic island in the Mediterranean Sea, is nearing completion, and once Jolley gets the city to sign off on his liquor license -- he's hoping that'll happen within the next week -- Gozo will be the newest eatery to join South Broadway's restaurant row.
Jolley, who's originally from Washington D.C., and whose impressive background includes stints with Gary Kunz, celebrated French chefs Michel Richard and Jean-Louis Palladin and James Beard finalist Spike Gjerde, moved to Denver last year, along with his business partner Dominic Valenti and chef Nick Petrilli, a New York native, whose own illustrious resume ballyhoos a litany of accomplishments: He was the chef at St. Helena's Tra Vigna, where he worked with star chef Michael Chiarello -- and appeared on ten seasons of Food Network's Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello, both as a chef and a food stylist; he was the opening sous chef of Bottega Ristorante, another Chiarello restaurant in Yountville that also employed Jolley, who was the director of operations; a food stylist and chef on Fine Living's Pairings with Andrea Immer, a world-renowned wine expert; and he was the chef of Rustic, winemaker-filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola's restaurant in Geyserville.
And together, he, Jolley, their partner Dominic Valenti, a former manager of Hapa Sushi, and wine director Jenny Brost, who has her level three advanced wine degree, are opening what Jolley calls the "marriage of an Italian wine bar and Spanish tapas." It's "rustic, honest and simple, and indicative of the way we eat in Napa and certainly in the wine countries of Spain and Italy, adds Jolley.
Most of the dishes on Petrilli's menu, which is still being tweaked, will benefit from the smoke imparted from the white-tiled wood-fired oven that's the focal point of the open kitchen, which also boasts a four-seat chef's counter. "Think ragus, braises, slow-cooked meats, charred vegetables and a commitment to extracting the most -- and best -- flavor from every ingredient," says Petrilli, adding that he favors simplicity: "Olive oil, salt, pepper and a flame -- that's all you need," he insists.
The oven, which registers 850 degrees and smolders with white oak, will also produce pizzas, the dough of which is made with finely ground Caputo 00 flour. "We're calling this pizza 3.0," says Jolley. "Neapolitan pizzas were popular a while ago, but we're evolving from that insomuch that we're exploring different toppings that we'll put on a Neapolitan base -- toppings like leeks, oxtail, squash blossoms, potatoes, clams and just about anything we can char," he explains. He notes, too, that the kitchen will utilize "new-world grains," which, he says, are popular in European kitchens. "All the chefs in Italy, Spain and France are using them, and they'll be a part of what we're doing here, too."
And the wine program, overseen by Brost, a former chef-turned-wine-geek will strongly complement Petrilli's cooking. "Our program consists of a lot of southern Italian wines, some Spanish and California wines and some French bubbles, and like the food, the wines will be approachable with reasonable price points," she says, adding that the bar, which as a dozen stools, will offer twenty wines by the glass, including two keg wines, and another sixty or so by the bottle. Gozo will also have four beers on tap, both local and Belgian-style imports, Fernet and whiskey on tap and a selection of craft cocktails, the list of which will be curated by bar manager Fletcher Cameron.
The eighty-seat space, which combines the former Deluxe and Juanita's into one restaurant, has been completely reworked; a hand-crafted community table, which seats twelve, runs along the middle of the high-ceilinged dining room, the rest of which is furbished with high-top wooden tables and cream-and-chocolate hued leather banquettes accented with walnut; Jolley also exposed the brick on the entire perimeter of the south wall, painting it a distressed white. The garage doors that open to the sidewalk are still there, and the original bar in Juanita's also remains in place, but the extensive remodeling reveals an artistic space that feels light and airy.
And Jolley is betting that the Baker 'hood will like what they see. "First and foremost, we want to be a neighborhood restaurant, and this is a great block that has a ton of character, lots of energy and an independent mindset, and we're really looking forward to creating a place where people can come and have a great meal and great wines," he says.
When Gozo opens, hours will be 4 to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Petrilli will serve the same menu throughout the day, bolstering the board with lunch and dinner specials. And Gozo won't take reservations, except for large parties.
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Jolley walked me through the space yesterday, while Petrilli, who's fiercely devoted to his craft, cooked up a storm, turning out a symphony of dishes that included a spectacular terrine, wild boar ragu, risotto with head-on shrimp, garganelli and rosemary-scented bolognese, a few beautifully charred pizzas and several other dishes, all of which indicate that Gozo will be a fine addition to the 'hood. Flip through the following pages to see what's in store.