Chef Andrea Frizzi didn't miss many days of work at the beginning of January. He closed his original Il Posto at 2011 East 17th Avenue after New Year's Eve dinner service, then had the restaurant back up and running in its new home at 2501 Larimer Street less than two weeks later.
And Frizzi was a busy man in the interim, running Vero, his pizza and pasta kitchen inside Denver Central Market just down the street; and wrangling contractors to put the finishing touches on the new Il Posto. But the stress of a restaurant move has paid off, and Frizzi has a warm and elegant space to show for it — larger and more modern than the first incarnation, and with expansive views of downtown in contrast to the close, intimate setting that guests enjoyed for the first decade of Il Posto's life.
Progress needed to be made, Frizzi explains, because he wanted more space for his growing customer base and more opportunities for employees. The planning phase was short: The chef says he lives in the moment while staying prepared to say yes to good opportunities — like taking LoHi developer Ken Wolf up on his offer to give Il Posto more exposure in a brand-new building.
With the help of LivStudio on the design, Frizzi's vision is now a reality, with a towering wine wall, a phalanx of semicircular booths and a chef's counter on the main floor, plus posh seating on the mezzanine that the chef compares (favorably) to the likes of Frasca in terms of ambience.
A larger kitchen with more modern equipment allows the menu to be an extension of what Il Posto fans have come to love. To start with, appetizers are grouped into grande and assaggini (small bites) heavy on seafood and seasonal vegetables. Look for riccio di mare (sea urchin and lobster roe atop fresh-baked focaccia); cauliflower and celery-root soup showered with white-truffle snow; and a candela — a beef-fat candle flecked with herbs.
A handful of housemade pastas come in at under $20 each in the primi section, some with playful culinary puns built in. Spaghetti tangles with spaghetti squash; linguini nere stained black with squid ink includes ringlets of calamari; and a plate of orreciette ("little ears" in Italian) flaunts crispy pig's ears along with roasted pork. Risotti and secondi plates run from $25 to $35 but show off the kitchen's full creative force, utilizing ingredients like cockles, kumquats, passatelli, beech mushrooms and romanesco to complement meats and seafood.
Il Posto is open for dinner six nights a week (Sundays excluded) and will add lunch service and brunch once the kitchen has time to get a feel for the pace of its new neighborhood. Keep reading for more photos.
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