Chef Pino Saverino opened Pino's Neighborhood Pizzeria & Wine Bar at 1400 East Hampden Avenue in Cherry Hills Village in 2011, and the little eatery quickly became a neighborhood gathering spot, with wine, pizza and housemade pasta drawing in customers, and Saverino's old-world hospitality keeping them coming back. Now the chef is shortening the name to Pino's Place and is expanding the cozy space into a former wine shop next door. After two months of construction, the bigger, more modern Pino's will reopen on June 8.
Pino's is expanding from 1,800 to 2,600 square feet, with a larger bar and a new chef's counter that will bring the total indoor seating to 75, with additional tables on the sidewalk patio out front. The menu will expand, too. "We're keeping pizza number one," Saverino explains, but new pasta dishes and entrees will feature more chicken and seafood, including cioppino risotto dishes and a gluten-free pasta ai formaggi — which the chef calls "Italian macaroni and cheese — made with Fontina, parmigiano, mozzarella and Gorgonzola cheeses.
Also new will be a happy hour from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, with $6 food and drink specials, including meatballs, arrancini, calamari, bruschetta, several house wines and Aperol spritzes. And on two Sundays a month, the chef's counter will feature Saverino's cooking classes, with room for up to ten guests. Classes will begin in mid-July; the restaurant's website will have a sign-up page beginning early next month.
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Saverino consider's Pino's to be an Italian version of Cheers, where friends and neighbors come for lunch, dinner and conversation. "That's what I like — making a home for people," he notes. "People come for food, but to socialize, too."
Saverino's cooking career began in his family's rosticceria in Liguria, Italy, before he went on to cooking schools in Turin and Milan. He operated a restaurant in Nice, then moved to the U.S. and ran a number of restaurants in the Miami area. During that time, he cooked for and became friends with many celebrities, from Elizabeth Taylor to Dennis Rodman. "We didn't have the technology to take a picture and put it on Facebook," he recalls, "so I just cooked and cooked."
The expanded Pino's Place will be open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. The restaurant is located next door to the new Cherry Hills Sushi Co. And soon Cochino Taco, from the Squeaky Bean's Johnny Ballen, will open just two blocks away, making this stretch of Hampden a mini-hub of quality restaurants for both neighbors and those looking to explore a hidden part of town.