Jay Fox's Dining Guide
You speaka Italiano? You eatta Italiano?
TIME SURE DOES FLY WHEN YOU’RE HAVING FUN, and I can’t think of anything more fun than going to the seventh annual Italian Food and Wine Festival to be held at Belmar in Lakewood from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, September 11 and 12. This is a week earlier than prior years. Note that there is always lotsa free parking.
Seven years ago, the first festival was held for one day on one block of Alaska Drive and was absolutely jam-packed. So the next year they expanded it to two days and two blocks of Alaska Drive and it was still packed all day long, both days. Last year it was even bigger, cuz they added another half block. Now it zigs and zags all over Belmar. Just breathe in the aromas and you’ll find the grub. Just pray for good weather, you’ve done real good so far. Last year’s crowd was estimated by West Metro Fire Department at between 35,000 — 40,000 live bodies each day, slurping and stuffing. I counted every single person there. There were 47,003 who went home with a very full but over-loaded tummy, 26,818 went home very satisfied, 8,999 went home still hungry, and 56 people are still there, waiting for this year’s festival.
There’s gonna be oodles of entertainment and exhibitions including the internationally renowned flag throwers direct from Florence, Italy, a bocce ball tournament, chef demonstrations, and the always popular Balistreri Vineyards grape-stomping bash for the kids. In addition, there will be live music and dancing from two stages. Again this year is the “Sinatra Stage.” Don’t ask. Okay, a hint. Y’all knew that Elvis Presley is alive and well in a hundred cities at any given moment. Well, the “chairman of the board” will be at the festival this year. Fortunately for your musical ears, there will be other performers as well. Actually, the “impersonator” not only looked like Sinatra but really sounded like him. Even down to his disheveled Panama slacks. This event will take place in the intersection of Alaska and Teller Street. Fortunately for the performers, no auto traffic will be allowed.
New this year is a project to support one of muh fav charities, Project Angel Heart (www.projectangelheart.org). Project Angel Heart delivers over 400,000 freshly prepared complete meals to over 1,800 homes. It’s the Festival Italiano Grand Tasting, where paying guests (the fee is quite modest) will enjoy Italian food and beverages prepared by a famous local chef. The seated dinner with live music will be hosted on the Belmar terrace overlooking the Plaza giving guests a great view of the festival activities under sparkling lights. Tickets are available at www.belmarcolo
There will also be lotsa artisan vendors selling everything Italian from ceramics, leather handbags, flowers, baked goods, glass works, jewelry and art.
In addition, also new this year, is an actual wine tasting. You can buy a punch card to try six different wines for a $7 fee. Should be a gas. If you wanna know about the festivities in detail, visit the Belmar website at www.belmarcolorado.com. I’m here to talk about the grub. And I got lots to say.
At this writing, there are almost thirty vendors serving meals, sangies, snacks and desserts, several wine vendors, and another two-dozen vendors offering merchandise and services. On to the grub.
I assume y’all know that food will be for sale (as opposed to freebie samples) but at very reasonable prices. Also this year, a group of chefs, including muh fav chef of chefs, Frank Bonanno (Mizuna, Luca D’ Italia, Osteria Marco) will share recipes and show off their skills at daily chef demonstrations.
That sed, here’s who’ll be serving real food and what they’ll be serving:
3 Sons Italian Restaurant (14805 W. 64th Ave, Arvada, 303/455-4366; www.threesons.net). These folks will be feeding the masses their maaavelous Italian egg rolls and tomato/mozzarella on a stick. Now located in West Arvada and open every day for lunch and dinner.
Borriello Brothers Real NY Pizza (719-884-2020, www.borriellobrothers.com). With a slew of eateries in Colorado Springs, these folks are intent on showing metro Denverites what real New York pizza is all about. They will operate several booths at the fair, serving New York style pizza, subs (heros to us New Yawkers), zeppoles and black & white cookies.
Canino’s Sausage Company (4414 Jason St, Denver, 303-455-4339; www.canino
Carmine Lonardo’s Meat Market (7585 W. Florida Ave, Lakewood, 303/985-3555). Big Tony and the mob (but such a nice mob) will again be serving their house made sausage sangies, cannolis, pizelle cookies and pepper shooters (whatever the heck them things are).
Colorado Buffalo Grill (Parker, 720-427-2664, www.coloradobuffalogrill.com) Sorry, but no buffalo — don’t know why not, maybe cuz it’s an Eye-talian festival? They will sell Italian nachos (ooh la la), fried mozzarella sticks, garlic/bread/w marinara sauce and tiramisu.
Grammy’s Italian Goodies — Italian cookies, Sicilian pizza, sausage cannolis, dessert cannolis, and spumoni ice cream.
Mici Handcrafted Italian (1531 Stout St, 303/629-6424, www.miciitalian.com) will be serving their popular pizza slices and insalata caprese.
Nonna’s Chicago Bistro & Wine Bar (6603 Leetsdale Dr, 303/399-2000; www.nonnaschicagobistro.com) will be serving meataball sangies, sausage sangies, penne pasta, and their unbelievable wonderful Eye-talian beef with peppers sangie. Another terrific restaurant. Open for lunch and dinner, call for reservs. Live entertainment every Friday and Saturday nite. If you ain’t never been, go.
Polidori Meats (3327 Tejon St, 303/455-5701, http://polidorimeats.com). These guys will serve sausage & peppers, sausage on a stick, sausage sangies and meataball sangies. Great sausage company.
Stella’s Italian Dogs — This new vendor will be selling gourmet hot dogs, caprese, and Italian sausage w/marinara.
Wystone’s Tea — (7323 W. Alaska Dr, 303-663-5775; www.wystonestea.com). The deliteful folks who run this Belmar restaurant on Alaska Drive will have a booth on-site and will offer several panini sangies including muh fav, the grilled turkey club, and gelato shakes. If you haven’t checked out this lovely tea shop with lotsa super grub and desserts, you need to do so. The restaurant will be open and serving its full menu during the festival.
MOST OF THE NEXT DOZEN or so vendors don’t operate restaurants but will be serving snacks and/or dessert items. I’m not going to list their addresses cuz if you like their stuff you can get that info from the folks in their booth. That is, if they want you to know how to find them.
Banane & Fragolae — These folks will serve fragola (fruit kabobs), torta al formaggio (cheesecake), and bign’e alla panna (cream puffs). Like I always say, “If you gotta ask what it is, you shouldn’t ask cuz you probably don’t wanna know.”
Cake Bubbles — Dessert time! Italian Cream cake, Venetian chocolate (oh, my!) cake, Chombolini (Italian anise cake), chocolate cheese and biscotti cake.
Dolce Sicilia — 3210 Wadsworth Blvd, Wheat Ridge, 303/233-3755, www.dolcesiciliabakery.com. This very popular Wheat Ridge Sicilian bakery will bring their best. Ricotta cannolis, ciabatta bread, sfogliatelle (cone-shaped filled pastries), Italian twisted bread, and biscotti.
Espo’s Cucina Dolce — gelato & sorbetto. Good stuff. You can find Espo’s gelato in most groceries around town including all King Stoopers.
Gelazzi Gelato Italian Café — gelato in a cup or a cone. I luv gelato.
Little Jimmy’s Italian Ice — what else but Italian ice?
Luigi’s Pizza Fritta — pizza fritta — fried pizza dough covered with cinnamon sugar or powdered sugar.
Pane Fresco — ciabatta bread, focaccetta, cookies, breads, and desserts.
Repicci’s Italian Ice — more Italian ice.
The Press Coffee Company — cappuccino, latte and mocha.
I forgot to mention that the Balistreri Vineyards Children’s Grape Stomp is gonna cause a bunch of folks to fall over and try to drink the guk from their feet. It isn’t a pleasant sight, and I am told that it isn’t a pleasant taste either.
Be sure to get there early and stay late, visit the website, www.belmarcolorado.com, and click on the link for Festival Italiano, and most of all, pray for good weather.
Disclaimer: Note that at the time I am writing this, the festival is more than two weeks away, so I am not responsible for any of the following errors: Typos (cuz it’s late at nite when I am writing this). Vendors dropping out. New vendors coming in. Vendors changing their mind about what they are serving. Bad food (cuz there won’t be any). Bad drinks (depends on your definition of bad). Lousy entertainment (well, you never know about these things). Bad weather (talk to HER). Nor am I responsible for anything I failed to tell you that I wasn’t responsible for.
A final note about the food. Unfortunately it’s not possible for the vendors to post all the ingredients in all the dishes. Many of you suffer from a variety of food allergies. Be sure to tell the vendor about your allergies before buying something. At this kind of event, some of the vendor’s employees will not be familiar with the ingredients. In that case, ask them to check with the chef or owner. Also, be sure to bring your allergy medicine with you.
Absent this year is Abrusci’s Italian Restaurant. Co-owner Steve Progar called to apologize for not being able to attend, but they are swamped with business at their second store that opened in April at 300 Fillmore Street in Denver’ Cherry Creek neighborhood.
G and I will be there stuffing and slurping along with tens of thousands of other folks so if you don’t go and you miss a good time, tuff bananas.
Now that’s an Italiano dining column! You can let Jay know what you think by contacting him at: email@example.com.