Halloween Harvest Week at Parisi features a vegetarian, multi-course meal

Just about everyone in town has heard of Parisi, the Italian restaurant/deli/bakery at 4401 Tennyson Street. In addition to serving excellent Italian food, it has a full deli stocked with delicious treats and a gelato/espresso station for dessert.

Now there's another reason to to visit Parisi: the Halloween Harvest Week special menu. And here's the surprise: It's vegetarian.

The restaurant advertises the meal as three courses, but it's really four. The main entree (pictured above) is a tasty squash gnocchi, served in a cream sauce with porcini mushrooms, which add an earthy tinge to this fall dish.

First up, though, is a soup-and-salad course.

The tomato soup comes with shreds of fresh basil, a garnish you stir into the creamy soup. That soup pairs very well with the balsamic vinaigrette-dressed salad, which comes topped with slices of olive and diced fresh tomato. (Other soup choices are available; ask your cashier what's suitable for vegetarians.)

The gnocchi course arrived just as the ladies at the next table, a group from Highlands Ranch, started in on their salads and soup. While chewing the perfectly cooked pasta, we listened to former sorority sisters introduce old friends to new, talking of weddings and dishing on ex-husbands. Another Parisi amenity: If your table-mate isn't holding your attention, it's easy to eavesdrop on other conversations in the open dining room.

Dessert is this pumpkin cannoli; the pastry shell is stuffed with a pumpkin-pie-like mixture, dusted with powdered sugar and adorned with crushed pumpkin seeds.

Overall, the meal is a beautiful showcase of the fall harvest.

You can enjoy this multi-course special through Saturday, October 30, for $17.99 per person. (Go during happy hour, 3 to 6 p.m., and snag a $3 glass of wine to imbibe with it.)

There are other harvest-time specials available, including a spiced-pumpkin-and-pancetta pizza -- but obviously, that's not vegetarian. And if you're not in the autumnal spirit, you can always order off the regular menu, which includes this Boccaccio Crostone: That's fresh mozzarella, roasted peppers, basil pesto and tomato pressed into a grill sandwich and served with a drizzle of olive oil.

Go to www.parisidenver.com to learn about the daily specials, including soups, so you can cut down on your order time at the counter.

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