It's been a year since Andrew Casalini and his wife, Jen Dactano, opened Satchel's on 6th, at 1710 East Sixth Avenue -- a replacement for Satchel's Market, the Park Hill market-turned-restaurant that they'd closed in the fall of 2010. Over the past twelve months, Casalini has worked hard to establish his place as a go-to neighborhood spot with simple, seasonal food and a good wine list - and he's enlisted the help of more than one chef to do so.
When the doors opened, Jared Brant was behind the burners, but he was quickly replaced by Kurt Boucher, an Iron Chef challenger who manned the kitchen for months. And at the end of February, Casalini brought in a third exec to run the line: Matt Marcheselli. "He's got a pretty good background. He was most recently at per se for two years," Casalini says, referring to the Thomas Keller temple of fine dining in New York City, "and he also worked at the Gramercy Tavern, Alain Ducasse and Veritas."
Despite Marcheselli's fine-dining background, Casalini isn't planning to recreate per se in Colorado. "We're not set up to do per se food," he explains. "He's bringing that experience into Satchel's, but we're still a neighborhood joint."
Still, Casalini says he's particularly excited that Marcheselli brings the skill to stay on top of seasonality and really fine-tune the kitchen, developing simple dishes that focus on flavor. Marcheselli has already made some tweaks to the menu, and added some new items, too. "He was a fish butcher at per se, so he's doing a really good job with the seafood," Casalini says, pointing to a kampachi dish cured with lime salt. And "his gnocchi is awesome," he adds. Until the morels come in, that dish contains chanterelles; Marcheselli is also making risotto with ramps.
"I'm really happy with it and with the way things are going," Casalini concludes. "I'm super excited to have him here."
A version of this story originally appeared in Cafe Bites, our weekly newsletter devoted to Denver's food and drink scene, which arrives in e-mail boxes every Wednesday afternoon. Find out how to subscribe here.