After years in northern California, veteran restaurateur Frank Jolley IV had a choice to make: open a restaurant there, or find a new place to set up shop. "I was 50-50 Healdsburg or Denver," says Jolley, whose lengthy career includes everything from picking grapes in New Zealand to meeting Julia Child to stints at big-name restaurants such as Lespinasse, Citronelle and Bottega. In the end, he chose to open Gozo, his fifth venture, in the Mile High City with partner Dominic Valenti because "Denver offers so much -- music-wise, art-wise, event-wise," he says. See also: Gozo is a real hot spot -- in more ways than one
It helped that Jolley was already familiar with Denver, having worked as a restaurant consultant here a few years ago.
But Jolley's influence isn't the only reason why Gozo feels like it was scooped up in California and driven here, wide-load-style. Executive chef Nicholas Petrilli spent years there, too, and the menu he designed for Gozo would be right at home after a day in wine country.
Despite the similarities, Jolley says the restaurant would have been significantly different if he had chosen to stay put in California. It would've been smaller, to begin with, and "prices would've been much higher." The wine program would've been different, too, and tables would've been closer together, since he'd been warned that "in Denver, no one likes tight seating." Maybe, maybe not.
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What diners definitely do like are great neighborhood restaurants like Gozo -- and that's true whether you're in Colorado or California.