Andrea Frizzi’s newest eatery plays off his successful Denver restaurants
By Rebecca Treon
Italian chef and restaurateur Andrea Frizzi is too humble to tell you he’s cooked for the likes of Pope John Paul II and former President Ronald Reagan. Or that when he came to America he was named one of the country’s best new rising chefs by Williams-Sonoma. He will tell you he grew up with a solid work ethic, cooked from a young age and doesn’t know any industry other than food.
“I am very fulfilled by what I do,” says Frizzi, who is bringing his talents to Boulder by transforming Pizzeria Da Lupo, at 2525 Arapahoe Ave., into Vero Italian, an upscale trattoria he originally opened in Denver Central Market. The peppy, enthusiastic restaurateur is also the brain behind RiNo’s Il Posto.
Frizzi is happy to build on his Denver successes and expand into the Boulder market, which he says “has its own unique vibe. It might be a college town but it has a strong food culture.”
Vero’s goal is “simple food done very well,” so in the months he converted his newest space into Vero Italian, Frizzi retooled the menu and trained staff to bake the Neapolitan-style wood-fired pizzas that are so popular at the Denver location. Frizzi says he pushed his staff to precision, but their reaction has been only positive.
“They say to me ‘I didn’t know I could do that!’” he says. “Now they come [to work] because there is an environment of joy.”
Pleasing Pizza Lovers
The Boulder Vero has no hood or stove, so the pastas on Vero’s Denver menu can’t be prepared here. Instead Frizzi offers sharable options and small plates, including a selection of charcuterie, house-made burrata, arancini stuffed with saffron rice, beef carpaccio, steak tartare and mussels. Five salads also grace the menu, including a wood-fired Caesar and a Greek salad.
Each pizza is made exclusively with San Marzano tomatoes topped with combinations as diverse and creative as Italy’s regions. Frizzi’s favorite is La Frizzi—a pizza he named after himself. It’s topped with San Marzano tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, grana, prosciutto di Parma and arugula. The Bella is topped with a dizzying blend of goat cheese, dried figs, walnuts, ricotta, fresh mozzarella, roasted garlic, 12-year aged balsamic, lemon oil and watercress. Another pizza boasts arugula pine nut pesto, fresh mozzarella, grana, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, garlic and basil. If you’re hankering for a certain ingredient, Frizzi likely has a pie topped with it.
Frizzi also refurbished Da Lupo’s interior. Gone are the rustic dark brick and wood walls cluttered with old photos and posters. Frizzi replaced those with refreshing white subway tile. He added marble-topped tables and a large community table, and painted the ceiling white with black beams to create an open and airy ambience.
A selection of wines on tap complement the wine list, which features vintages from Frizzi’s native Italy. And no trattoria is complete without digestifs like amaro, Fernet and grappa. Vero offers those and more, plus an espresso machine for coffee Italian-style.
Daily happy hour offers discounts on wines and select small plates and pizzas,
and the special “vacanza Italiana”—a salad, margherita pizza and a glass of wine
for $17—is always on the menu. On Mondays, a half dozen signature wings and a
margherita pizza will set you back just $14. Wednesdays are wine-discounts day.
“I have had all of these miracles happen for me, so I have an obligation to do it
right,” Frizzi says of his newest eatery. “I want to be a nice person, create a community
where people want to come to work and to eat. That’s my mission on this
planet—to be as authentic a person and chef as I can be.”
Vero Italian (303-396-6366) is located at 2525 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder 80302. It is
open Sunday-Thursday 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. and Friday-Saturday 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m.