Tucked off Washington street through an unassuming door in one of Golden’s most historic buildings you can now find Golden’s newest restaurant – Bella Colibri. Bella Colibri further diversifies Golden’s dining scene with upscale Italian cuisine in an intimate setting. Owners Aimee and Dean Valdez decided to bring Dean’s Italian heritage to life by renovating the rarely-used event space in the back of their other restaurant – Old Capitol Grill & Smokehouse. “We had this space that we didn’t use most of the time and decided to do something with it,” stated Dean. The couple also owns Miners Saloon in downtown Golden and saw the need for an Italian restaurant downtown.
“You have all these other types of restaurants popping up but there hasn’t been an Italian restaurant yet,” stated Aimee. Dean’s familial ties to Italy, the couple’s love for Italian food and experience in the industry were the perfect storm to bring Bella Colibri to fruition.
Upon walking through the door you are greeted by exposed brick walls that tell a story of Colorado’s rich history. The building was constructed in 1863 and was where Colorado’s territorial legislature met to discuss the statehood of Colorado which led to us becoming the 38th state in 1876. The Valdezs were able to beautifully use the building’s roots to turn the space into a cozy, intimate setting – similar to that of an authentic southern Italian restaurant – while maintaining the rustic charm of Golden. Even the phrase “bella colibri” translates to “beautiful hummingbird” named after the bird that marks the start of summer here in Colorado. The Italian countryside decor, white table cloths and plethora of Italian wines will transport you to Calabria, Italy as soon as you hang your coat.
Bella Colibri’s menu will change seasonally and consists of the traditional Antipasti, Primo, Secondi and Dolce courses. All of the pasta is handmade in-house and you can tell with each bite. You’ll find Antipasti items like olives, meatballs and crab salad that make way for the Primo dishes of potato gnocchi, squash tortellini and risotto. Highlights of the Secondi section include pork belly carbonara and a lasagna that tastes like Dean’s great-grandmother made it herself. The desserts – or dulces – consist of traditional Italian desserts like cannoli and panna cotta but the Maca D’Oro – a white chocolate mousse dipped in a candied apple glaze – stole the show.
For diners that want an even more intimate dining experience – and maybe a few extra items from the kitchen – the restaurant has a small chef’s table that seats four. You can speak with the chefs and have a glimpse into the kitchen to see how they prepare the dishes and they’ll probably sneak you an item or two on the house. The small bar is a great place to sit to grab a glass of one of the many wines the restaurant has available. The selection includes a wide range of Italian wines as well as a few from California that pair well with the seasonal menu items.
Aimee and Dean created the perfect mix of authentic Italian and rustic Colorado with Bella Colibri and it’s exciting to see the unique flair it brings to the Golden culinary scene. If you didn’t already have an excuse to visit Golden, now you sure do.
Bella Colibri is located at 812 12th Street, Golden. Open Wednesday – Sunday 5:00- 9:30 p.m.