Given that Aspen is more comparable to a winter wonderland than a seafood paradise, most don’t choose to visit for its fresh and bright cuisine. However, Duemani is changing the game with its refreshing winter menu, and its lineup may shift your perspective on where some of the best Mediterranean dishes lie. Creative, fresh and bold is Duemani’s mantra, reflected in the talents of its culinary team of prodigies.
Chef Jesus Alvarado spent his childhood cutting vegetables at his dad’s restaurant — a foreshadowing of his future livelihood. After his upbringing in Aspen and Mexico, Alvarado attended culinary school at CMU and spent his time at many restaurants afterward including the acclaimed seafood spot Matsuhisa. While at the site, he became close with Aspen Hospitality Group’s Managing Partner — Carlos Solorzano-Smith — and began to discuss future plans. “When we worked together, we always talked about opening something that Aspen doesn’t have or hasn’t had for a long time. We thought Aspen had never seen a Mediterranean restaurant that was actually Mediterranean,” Alvarado reflected.
Both Alvarado and Solorzano-Smith recognized that with the extensive list of culinary concepts today, it takes much dedication to come up with something completely unique. “I think exclusivity in a theme for a restaurant is completely out the window nowadays. Which is good because it gives us more leeway to be able to use different ingredients and the ability to be more creative,” Alvarado stated. “We do try to give Aspen something that’s never been done before.”
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Along with producing approachable yet refined food, Duemani is distinctive for its excellent service. “Duemani” means two hands — an ode to its dedication to teamwork. “I usually try to hit every single table that comes to the restaurant. I introduce myself, talk to them and ask them if there’s any feedback. I feel like any restaurant is just as good as its customer’s experience,” Alvarado described. When stepping foot into Duemani, you are promised not only an incomparable culinary experience but also exemplary service.
The real showstopper is Duemani’s new winter menu, a rustic twist on traditional Mediterranean eats. Fresh and fragrant is its theme, mimicked in its purposefully created dishes. Each of its whole fish is flown in from regions like Hawaii and Japan — never touched or butchered until they reach Duemani. From Hawaii, its tuna served Crudo-style ($28) is topped with an Urfa Pepper Vinaigrette — adding a touch of balancing citrus — and finished with yuzu, fried capers and crispy leaks for that necessary crunch. Another mandatory Crudo is its scallops ($32) from Hokkaido, Japan. Enveloped in a Piquillo Pepper Vinaigrette, Kalamata olive oil, red onion and dressed with dehydrated Kalamata olives, this dish exudes Mediterranean flavor simply from its description.
Its wine list is extensive — with 5,000 to 6,000 bottles from all over the world, it’s almost impossible to search for a wine pairing without success. For cocktail lovers, its menu features six specialty mixes. The Cloud Nine ($19) is a house favorite, fashioned with Whitley Vodka, Velvet Disaronno, pineapple juice, fresh lemon juice and Angostura bitters. Its Barrel Aged Old Fashioned ($21) is a classic with Four Roses Bourbon and High Proof Rye Whiskey soaked in almond, then aged in a heavily charred oak barrel for 30 to 60 days. Traditionally served, this Old Fashioned is worth the trip.
“We have the ability to pair in so many ways with our food and cuisine, but the best pairing we can make is with our customers. Find out what they like to drink, want to eat and then provide that experience,” Solorzano-Smith explained. “I always tell people that the best way to enjoy a meal is to drink what you like, eat what you like. That’s the best way”.
Duemani has already proven to uphold this intention with its receptive and dedicated attitude.
Duemani is located at 216 South Monarch St., Aspen. It is open daily from 5 p.m. to close.