Today, Chef Cristino Griego will open a new neighborhood bistro in Stapleton. The compact venture resides in the corner of a nondescript retail strip in an already quiet residential patch of one of Stapleton’s more stroller-friendly new subdivisions. The single-page menu is filled with traditional snacks from Spain, Italy and France — with a wine and cocktail-heavy drink list that is thoughtfully suited to the food. The spot will be open for happy hour and dinner with a weekend brunch to follow in the coming weeks.
The interior is cozy — the atmosphere neatly matching the cuisine. The tables and chairs of the 50-seat space all seem to have been pulled straight from the front of a Parisian cafe and the layout seems to encourage lounging. The menu is well designed for a quick after-work bite or a relaxing multi-course feast. Griego lives in Park Hill — less than a mile from the restaurant. The place was obviously designed with the community in mind — the chef has been a part of it for some time, having previously owned The Bistro at Stapleton at the same location until its closure in 2017.
In a previous life, Griego worked as the marketing director for C-SPAN in Washington, DC. A letter from Raul Yzaguirre — the former US ambassador to the Dominican Republic — thanking the chef for a personal dinner hangs from one of the walls. The New Mexico native relocated here after his Washington stint and has since served as executive chef at Frank Bonano’s SupperBell delivery service as well as functioning as chef instructor and director of business development at Cook Street School of Culinary Arts. Most of his staff he poached from there — a visible camaraderie permeates the front and back of house.
As far as the food, start with the Spanish patatas bravas ($8) — roasted fingerlings, spicy romesco and aioli. Then head over to Italy with the cicchetti ($14) — chile sous-vide brisket, crostini, lemon, creamed mango chevre, roasted onions, cherry tomatoes and arugula. The brisket is predictably tender and the varied flavors don’t overwhelm one another. Everything is prepared in a small kitchen with induction cooktops and a convection oven — the cuisine is surprisingly thorough despite the absence of open flame.
The escargot ($12) is snails drenched in lemon, garlic, shallot, compound butter and a healthy portion of melted gruyere. Unfortunately, the cheese is the most prominent ingredient — the snails’ texture is almost entirely hidden. This isn’t bad for anyone intimidated by the shelled delicacy, but for those who look for a more traditional escargot, the cheese feels like a crutch. The French onion a la du boeuf ($12) takes the classic soup, transforming it into a shareable dip with braised brisket and crostini. There is also plenty of gruyere here, but the perfectly-melted topping shines and ties the dish together rather than consuming it.
Drinks and bar food will always be an important part of any community — Griego has done a nice job of orchestrating a spot that should serve as a proper hangout for — and nicely represents — the area’s residents. We recommend trying the Negroni Sour for a spin on a classic or asking for a recommendation for a great bottle of wine. Either way, you can’t go wrong.
Griego’s solid iterations of European classics are satisfying and unchallenging — decadent enough to match well with booze but sophisticated enough to satiate those who have grown sick of sliders and wings.
Della Radice is located at 2955 Ulster St. #100, Denver. It is open Tuesday – Thursday 3 – 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday 3 p.m. – 12 a.m., and Sunday 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
All photography by Alden Bonecutter.