In my five years in Denver, I’ve been on a low-key quest to find the kind of cheap, ultra-casual and delicious Italian restaurants I grew up with. It hasn’t been easy.
A couple places, particularly Trattoria Stella, come close price-wise, but I was still missing a certain feeling you only get in old, family-owned joints. The kind of places where all the staff are related.
I finally figured out how to scratch that itch. (And if you’ve got more or better ideas, let me know: firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Step 1: Leave Denver. Go to Lakewood.
There you’ll find Café Jordano tucked away in a strip mall at Kipling and Jewell.
Step 2: Accept the wait. Make peace with it.
From what I’ve heard, if you show up to Café Jordano for dinner and don’t have to wait a little while, you’ve hit the jackpot.
We showed up at 6 p.m. on a Wednesday and waited about 15 minutes.
Step 3: Get a bottle of wine.
Any wait for dinner can be improved by approximately 78 percent by some wine. The bar had selections of bottles for $20 and $25. The bottle above was our second
Step 4: Make decisions.
There are a lot of options.
Step 5: Go a little overboard on appetizers.
We were so hungry we devoured most of the apps before I remembered to take a picture, but here are the remains of some Caprese and crostini. The latter is garlic bread topped with prosciutto and melted mozzarella.
Step 6: Dig in to the main course.
That was the special — linguine with mussels and a pesto cream sauce.
That one’s Greg’s Favorite — chicken cutlet in spicy red arrabbiata with bacon and mushrooms, topped with cheese.
That’s the pollo alla Firenze — chicken and fettuccine in a cream sauce with spinach.
And that’s the pollo al pomodoro — sautéed chicken in olive oil sauce with fresh tomatoes, garlic and basil over pappardelle pasta.
Step 7: Smile at your bill.
It’s $29 per person.