When you think of Italian food, you probably think of heavy pastas that are rich with cheese, oils and meats, decadent desserts and red wine. While those aspects do exist at Jovanina’s Broken Italian, so does much more. The seasonal cuisine at Jovanina’s breathes fresh, local ingredients into the traditional and non-traditional Italian dishes we all love.
Owners Jennifer and Jake Linzinmeir opened Jovanina’s in 2018 as their first restaurant together — each of them already individually owned restaurants in Telluride and Vail. The couple met while studying at Cornell University and were friends for many years before they began dating. “We always talked about doing a restaurant together. We both bring different strengths to the table; Jake is the culinary and creative mind and I’m the business and accounting resource,” said Jennifer.
Jennifer also brings the Italian heritage to Jovanina’s — which is actually the Italian way of saying her name, spelled slightly differently. “Jake has always wished he was Italian,” she laughed. “He cooked in Italy for a year and the restaurant he worked at earned its second Michelin star while he was a cook there.” Since he isn’t Italian by birth, he reserves the right to cook in his own style — hence the term “broken Italian.”
Prior to the pandemic, the restaurant operated a little differently. Jovanina’s servers spent a lot more time at the tables preparing pasta tableside and putting finishing touches on the dishes. “It had a personality of its own; we hope to bring back that theatrical element soon,” said Jennifer.
Jovanina’s is also bringing back monthly Sunday Suppers — dinners that were sacred in Jennifer’s home growing up. “Every dinner was a big deal but Sundays were special,” she said. The monthly dinners will cost $55 per person and include a three-course dinner served family-style with free-flowing wine. Expect the tables to be pushed together to form a long community table and to make friends with the people next to you. Each dinner will highlight seasonal ingredients, so it will be different every time.
Jennifer says the focus is on the best Colorado produce like peaches, corn, squash and zucchini. The pasta primavera from one of this summer’s Sunday Suppers actually ended up on the regular menu. It includes house-made extruded pasta in the shape of little bicycles served with corn, zucchini and a fresh tomato sauce — a perfectly refreshing summer pasta. In addition, Jovanina’s will host a pickling party at the restaurant toward the end of the summer. This is your chance to learn how to pickle vegetables while enjoying some delicious food, wine and conversation.
If you’d like to escape to a more intimate setting, Jovanina’s is also home to Sotto Voce — a subterranean, Prohibition-style era lounge beneath the main restaurant. Sotto Voce features craft cocktails, wine, cocktails on tap, barrel-aged spirits, seasonal liqueurs, local beers and an innovative absinthe program. It was recently recognized as a 2021 readers’ choice pick in 5280 Magazine‘s Top of the Town for its cocktail menu.
With many Italian restaurants to choose from, Jovanina’s provides an intimate experience and amazing food in a welcoming, non-pretentious environment that’s perfect for your next dinner with friends, date night or family dinner.
Jovanina’s Broken Italian is located at 1520 Blake St., Denver. Open Tuesday through Saturday 5 – 10 p.m. and once a month on Sundays 5:30 – 9 p.m.