Lists

Six Really Old, Old-School Red-Sauce Italian Joints in Metro Denver

You used to be able to find old-school red-sauce joints all over metro Denver. But their ranks have been dwindling, as the owners of these Italian restaurants decide to retire or sell out to developers — or both. The most recent loss? Louisville's 98-year-old Blue Parrot, which closed in January. But there are still at least six joints in metro Denver serving in the original spots where they first stirred up that red sauce more than fifty years ago.

Romano's Italian Restaurant
5666 South Windemere, Littleton
303-798-4944

Romano's opened on a sleepy little street a few blocks from Littleton's Old Town in 1967. Back then, Neil and Ellie Romano ran it as a little pizza joint with just three tables. But over the years, both the menu and the space expanded, and today the second generation of the Romano family runs what's become a landmark in Littleton, known as much for its welcoming atmosphere as for its homemade spaghetti, eggplant parmesan and amazing red sauce that covers almost everything. (And it should go without saying that there is absolutely no connection between this classic place and Romano's Macaroni Grill....)

Frank the Pizza King
4701 South Broadway, Englewood
303-789-2279

Frank the Pizza King was founded on South Broadway in 1961 by Frank Krascek; today it's run by Walter (Frank's son) and Maria Krascek. Since Frank is the pizza king, pizza dominates the menu, with a medium-thick crust and a generous slathering of red sauce. But homemade sausage sandwiches, Italian subs and other diner-style dishes are also available. 

The Saucy Noodle
727 South University Boulevard
303-733-6977

Opened in 1964, the Saucy Noodle celebrated fifty years in business under the same family ownership two years ago; Erin Markham took over operations in the 1990s from her grandfather, Sam Badis. Restaurant critic Gretchen Kurtz, in her review of the garlic-loving joint, noted that the "attitude, like the food itself, was nothing if not friendly, a personification of the family that has run the Saucy Noodle for all these years." Don't expect anything fancy — just the same meatballs, pastas, pizzas and family atmosphere that have been keeping Bonnie Brae neighbors coming back for decades.

Keep reading for three more Italian joints that have been around for more than five decades.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.