Robert Cherenzia learned how to make bagels in New York before hauling his baking secrets to Park City, Utah, where the Detroit native opened his own bagel shop and, he says, "fell in love with the restaurant industry." Years later, he moved to Denver, doing time at Wolfgang Puck Express and Paradise Bakery, as well as Locanda Del Borgo, where he was the general manager for a year and half before opening West 29th Restaurant and Bar two weeks ago at 5560 West 29th Avenue, a leafy, tree-lined street in Wheat Ridge.
See also: - Colorado Plus opens Monday with 56 local beers on tap -- and a brewery next month - Brewery Rickoli opens today as Wheat Ridge's only beer maker - Joyride Brewing will soak in Edgewater's history when it opens at year's end
"It's a restaurant that was specifically built for the neighborhood," says Cherenzia, who gives credit to owner William Starker, who also operates his own construction business and is the mastermind behind the build out of Trillium, Ryan Leinonen's restaurant in Ballpark, as well as Chipotle Mexican Grill. "William lives in this neighborhood, just a few blocks away, and he wanted a neighborhood restaurant that was his own design," notes Cherenzia, adding that much of the bar was constructed from leftover wood from Trillium, which mixes with the original woodwork from its prior days as a grocery store.
Hardwood floors, wooden rafters, leather-wrapped door handles, an exhibition kitchen and stained glass panels, all of which showcase familiar landmarks from different American states, including Colorado, set the stage for the space, the exterior of which is surrounded by two patios, one of which doubles as an herb garden -- a garden of eating that executive chef Christopher Sanchez, who spent a decade behind the line at the various restaurants in the Brown Palace, utilizes in his dishes: pan-seared halibut, for example, pooled in a sake-spiked green curry and paired with broccoli and rice studded with cilantro, or wild-caught salmon with spinach, arugula and a caper beurre blanc sauce. And Sanchez has a pedigreed sidekick in sous chef Chris Bennett, who spent time in the kitchens of Bistro Vendome, Row 14 and the now-closed Encore. "The menu is local and seasonal, and I think we have an all-star kitchen staff that really knows how to make amazing food," says Cherenzia, who also hired the former pastry chef at Strings to do the restaurant's breads and desserts.
"This is an upscale restaurant in terms of service and the menu, which is definitely tattooed with French accents, especially when it comes to our sauces, but it's also comfortable and affordable," notes Cherenzia, who also proffers a globetrotting wine list, nearly thirty bottled beers and several more on tap that are served in beer steins. And in an interesting detour, the majority of beers aren't brewed in Colorado. "I know Colorado beers are really popular, but we wanted to do something a little different, especially with our tap lines, so we're doing a lot of beers from Germany, Belgium, Holland and the Czech Republic," he says, pointing out that the front patio, accentuated with a fountain, is the restaurant's version of a beer garden.
West 29th is open for dinner nightly, from 5 to 10 p.m., and weekend brunch, which will be served from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., is on the horizon for August, as is lunch.
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