Chef Andrea Frizzi, owner of Il Posto on Larimer Street and Vero pizzeria at the Denver Central Market, was surprised this week by an influx of mail. These envelopes didn't contain more bills or bad news, though; they were letters from customers and other concerned writers who just wanted to let Frizzi know that he and his restaurants were appreciated. Oh, and there was cash.
"Twenty dollars in one, forty in another," the chef explains. "It didn't add up to a lot, but it meant a lot. I don't fucking cry, but I had a tear coming down."
So far, the donations have totaled about $150, and Frizzi adds that some of the letters came from people who had never even been to his restaurants. "People clearly don't have a lot of extra money right now," he states. "It tells me that we're all going to better than ever when this is over."
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The chef has kept open the upscale Il Posto even though converting the Italian menu, known for its fresh pastas and traditional dishes, to a format that would work for takeout orders wasn't easy. And food sales aren't bringing in much money. But the restaurant is also canning cocktails to go and selling bottles of wine at a considerable discount. Frizzi says he felt it was important to stay open just to show that Il Posto is still there for the neighborhood, and still will be when the current crisis ends. "We're doing everything we can to keep our employees working and to stay a part of the community," he adds.
Frizzi says that he's been selling a good number of pizzas out of Vero, plus groceries and other provisions, including toilet paper. And at Il Posto, the cook-your-own pappardelle and pork ragu kits are selling well. "We're also selling beautiful duck eggs from a ranch in Buena Vista," he adds. For Easter, the kitchen is making Italian tortas di pasqualina, big savory pies filled with spinach, ricotta and hard-boiled eggs.
Restaurants, says Frizzi, are too important to lose: "We need to be here to give people some fun."
You can order from Il Posto online for pick-up at 2601 Larimer Street between 2 and 8 p.m. daily, or call the restaurant at 303-394-0100 for Easter orders and daily cocktail and meat and cheese specials. Order from Vero at 303-296-8376 and get your pie and provisions inside the Denver Central Market at 2669 Larimer Street.