Where: 8439 Park Meadows Center Dr., Lone Tree, CO 80124
Don’t Miss: The wines on tap, the combination cheese and meat plate, and the wild mushroom pizza
I grew up in the suburbs of Denver and spent many weekends wandering around malls and movie theaters. When my family went out to eat, which we did often, we usually went to some sort of chain restaurant. Alas, part of the reason I don’t live in the suburbs now is because there are so few unique, non-corporate dining options. It’s not that chain restaurants are bad, per se, but they are rarely memorable. Even though I don’t have to venture outside Denver city limits very often, I always try to know of decent food options around town. When I heard that Denver’s most successful restauranteur, Frank Bonanno, was opening a pizza joint in Park Meadows, I was thrilled. Luckily, Bonanno Brothers Pizzeria provides a welcome respite from the sub-par restaurants that dominate mall cuisine.
Many shoppers at Park Meadows don’t seem to be familiar with the Bonanno name. Since Mizuna debuted in 2001, Bonanno has opened a string of successful restaurants and pushed the Denver dining scene from average to amazing. When I stopped by for dinner this week, I was enthralled to watch shoppers glance at the menus of neighboring restaurants. Bonanno Brothers might sit next to chain giants like Brio and the White Chocolate Grill, but I can guarantee that you will have a better dining experience at Bonanno Brothers.
The interior is modeled after a Florence train station and the Bonanno crew transported the wood-fired pizza oven from Italy. There is plenty of comfortable seating inside but on the final few days of summer I recommend grabbing a seat on the shaded patio. It’s a lovely setting for people watching and enjoying the water feature that runs through the center of the outdoor mall. Once you’re settled, grab a cocktail or choose from the extensive wine list. I particularly enjoyed two of the wines on tap, the 2011 Folk Machine Pinot Noir from the Central Coast ($13 glass or $45 carafe) and the 2010 Palmina Dolcetto from Santa Barbara ($11 glass or $38 carafe). The Folk Machine Pinot is perfect for those who like a lighter red wine without a lot of sweetness or bite. With some strawberry notes, this wine goes down easy and pairs well with many of the pizzas. The Palmina Dolcetto is much more complex with dark berries and some spiciness. If you’re feeling like more of a classic Italian red, this is your choice.
There are some good appetizer options on the menu, but I recommend going straight to the combination fromaggi è salumi ($18). The mussels ($10) and the hamachi ($11) are decent but the cheeses and meats are what really impress at this restaurant. The combination plate includes various cheeses like gorgonzola, mozzarella, and ricotta. But if there is one thing you order at Bonanno Brothers, order the burrata. Made with mozzerella and cream, the burrata is lightly drizzled with pure, Italian olive oil. I could eat this cheese everyday. It is heavenly. Of course, I don’t know if that would be very healthy… but I digress. The meats are also good. I especially enjoyed the salami, but you can’t go wrong with the prosciutto, mortadella, and bresaola. Like its sister restaurant Osteria Marco, Bonanno Brothers delivers top ingredients and the quality shows.
The salads looked appetizing but I must admit I went straight for the pizza. You can never have enough bread, meat, and cheese, right? My server recommended the wild mushroom ($12) and the prosciutto ($15) pizzas and he was spot on. The wild mushroom pizza is one of the best things I have eaten in a while. Made with a béchamel sauce, mushrooms, robiola, and topped with a bit of truffle oil, this pizza is delicious. The prosciutto pizza is topped with a tangy tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, prosciutto, and arugula. Because of the cured meat, the pizza is a bit on the salty side, so if you are salt adverse I would order something else. But if you are looking for a classic Italian pizza on a deliciously thin wood-fired crust, the prosciutto is a good choice. Both pizzas are served with crushed red pepper, fresh parmesan, and a tasty chili pepper oil. At this point in the meal I was fairly certain I couldn’t eat anything else. But then dessert arrived.
I don’t love Italian desserts, but Bonanno Brothers might have converted me. The cheesecake ($7) uses house-made ricotta and seasonal fruit for a not-too-sweet concoction that blew my socks off. Of course, I lucked out that the seasonal fruit were Palisade peaches, but I can’t wait to see what other combinations the chefs dream up. I also tried the chocolate budino ($6), a cross between a pudding and a cake that is served with olive oil and sea salt on top. I immediately recognized the same olive oil that topped the burrata. This stuff is amazing!
Dessert ended the meal on a high note and overall I was impressed. I will definitely return, especially for the burrata and the wild mushroom pizza. The biggest draw? Bonanno Brothers Pizzeria serves up some of the best food you can get in the suburbs. Period.