Virgilio's Pizzeria and Wine Bar slices up new vegetarian (raw optional) entrees

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We're always finding new vegan and vegetarian food options to try in the metro area. But sometimes an old favorite is worth a second look -- and that's the case this week with Virgilio's Pizzeria and Wine Bar and the eatery's new "pasta" options.

See also: Virgilio's pizza stretches to accommodate vegan and vegetarian needs

There are so many fabulous things about this Italian outpost in Littleton: the wine list (and happy-hour specials) are noteworthy, as is the thin-crust, Sicilian-style pizza (with vegan cheese options) and the addictive garlic knots. There's an elegant bar area and spacious dining room that can accommodate parties of all sizes; Virgilio's is especially popular among families during weekdays, and on weekend nights, reservations are definitely recommended if you're coming with a group.

Pictured above is one of two brand-new dishes on the menu -- zucchini "spaghetti," zucchini cut into long, thin strips and prepared according to your preference. Our zucchini was lightly cooked in extra-virgin olive oil and garlic; you can also order it served with piping-hot marinara sauce and topped with Pecorino cheese or tossed with pesto or alfredo sauce. The zucchini is sliced thinly enough that you could even enjoy it raw. But a little heat enhances the flavors of the fresh zucchini, making this a plant-based meal that even a carnivore can appreciate.

Virgilio's offers a similar dish made with sweet potato. The version above was served with marinara sauce that was hot enough to lightly cook the sweet potato, which enhanced the flavor.

Virgilio's definitely caters to plant-based eaters. If you order either "pasta" without the cheese, they are vegan dishes -- and both are naturally gluten free. But there are several gluten-free options on the menu, too.

For a vegetarian starter, the baked string beans -- lightly breaded and baked so they stay crunchy -- are a fabulous pick. The chipotle-enhanced dipping sauce is definitely dairy-based, but you can just eat the beans plain -- because it's absolutely worth ordering a basket of these bad boys to share with your table.

Virgilio's is open daily; visit ilovepizzapie.com or call 303-972-1011 for more information.

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