There’s been no shortage of news when it comes to chef and restaurateur Troy Guard’s growing restaurant group. We’ve seen Lucky Cat open in Lowry, a new chef at Sugarmill and plans for new restaurants in Stapleton. Guard’s eighth and newest concept, Mister Tuna, opens in RiNo at the Industry building tomorrow.
The 3,500-square-foot,115-seat space features an open kitchen with a chef’s counter, raw bar, cocktail bar lead by Nikki Guard and Michael Cerretani, lounge seating and a 40-seat patio. A sleek and sexy design with black, gold, charcoal and the warm glow of a wood-fired rotisserie and grill bring a comfortably hip vibe to the room. Guard’s intention is for it to be a “neighborhood sanctuary” of sorts. “A sanctuary is where you feel safe and comfortable like home,” said Guard. “So that’s what we tried to create with the space.” The Mister Tuna name is actually the nickname of Guard’s father, who cooked all family meals Hawaiian-style over a backyard grill. You’ll find Guard family photos and other subtle homages to his childhood throughout the restaurant.
Kick things off with some sips off the cocktail menu crafted by Michael Cerretani and Nikki Guard. The Green Drink ($12) made with Tanqueray gin, fresh lime juice, Dolin Blanc, Genepy and cucumber is a refreshing, clean (and boozy) cocktail that prepares your palate for the sumptuous dishes to come. If you don’t see a drink that meets your needs, ask a bartender to create something for you. They’ll write down the recipe in a bar book and you can request it the next time you’re in for drinks.
The menu begins with raw selections such as fresh shucked oysters (market price) and king crab ($14). Delectable crab meat is met with savory brown butter and contrasting sweetness of finely diced Palisade peaches with a finishing pinch of black lava sea salt to balance and round out the stunning dish.
Among the appetizers and sharable plates are grilled pizzas, toasts and house-made pastas. The grilled ‘shroom pizza ($9) is a great place to start, topped with sautéed mushrooms, local goat cheese, garden herbs and the subtle heat of Calabrian chilis. Everyone at the table will be able to enjoy a bite or two of the pizza to get the meal going.
The house-made garganelli ($12) is a rolled pasta topped with a pork ragu, Pecorino Romano and soffrito. Diner beware: you won’t want to share a single bite of this decadent dish. The rich soffrito and savory pork ragu practically melts in your mouth and each piece of the perfectly cooked garganelli provides a toothsome bite. You’ll be pining for this dish in the days that follow your visit to Mister Tuna.
Entrees include dry-aged ribeye, wild Alaskan salmon and other cuts of meat and fish. However, we recommend the heritage pork collar ($26). The 16-ounce cut of collar is brined then slowly cooked on the rotisserie, making it so tender and juicy, your knife glides through as you prepare your first bite. It is accompanied by a salad of watercress, mizuna and house-pickled mustard seeds.
Mister Tuna will offer a short and sweet dessert menu of two choice that will change every 30 days. Dinner service kicks off with happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m. Starting August 15, you can also drop in for a grab-and-go breakfast burrito, pastries and other breakfast selections from 8 to 11 a.m., with lunch following at 11 a.m.
Mister Tuna is an impressive new page in the always growing book that is Troy Guard’s restaurant group. It brings together elements of his other concepts yet stands apart from them in the execution of dishes and overall vibe of the space. As Mister Tuna dishes out wood-fired food and crafted cocktails, we will see Guard’s goal of creating a neighborhood sanctuary achieved.
All photography by Danielle Webster.