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Rioja = seriously fantastic!

h
Heyteacher Dec 3, 2010 11:35 AM

It's been on our list for a few years now and we finally made it down there. Wow, was it wonderful! We had the apple basil soup, fresh housemade mozz, smoked pork tenderloin, artichoke tortolloni and the hazelnut tortamisu. Everything was fabulous and our waiter was great too! It's a definite return in a month or so and next on the list is Euclid Hall! Yum yum!

Happy Friday!

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Rioja
1431 Larimer Street, Denver, CO 80202

  1. e_bone Dec 3, 2010 07:01 PM

    Just a quick amen on that HeyTeach. One of the best meals I've had in Denver.

    1. tatamagouche Dec 5, 2010 10:58 AM

      Oh, your first time! Yes, it's really that good, as is Euclid Hall.

      1. Spanishcook Dec 9, 2010 03:41 PM

        This is one of my favorite Restaurants of all time. I have been there many times and the last visit was the best. We got to sit at the bar and watch the kitchen prepare our dinner. It was like poetry in motion. will be back very soon.

        1. m
          monopod Dec 10, 2010 11:55 AM

          My only complaint is that their bread is so good, and varied, that I always fill up on it.

          Last time I was there, the check came with house-made candied mint leaves. A very nice play on the after-dinner mint, I thought.

          1 Reply
          1. re: monopod
            tatamagouche Dec 11, 2010 12:37 PM

            +1 on the bread.

          2. c
            christy319 Oct 18, 2011 01:04 PM

            So, I just went there and I followed the waiter's suggestion of getting what he called their signature dish--the artichoke tortolloni. It was fine but not special at all, and they'd drizzled truffle oil on top, which is such an awful synthetic product I am really surprised they used it (truffle butter, which is not synthetic but of course is more expensive, would have been a better option. Or hey, why not just a tiny bit of actual truffle?). I hate to judge a restaurant on one entree. Is that really the signature dish on which the restaurant should be judged? Or should I go back and get.....what? Service was terrific as was the bread. Cocktails were nice too. I got a cheese plate for dessert and that was actually quite odd and expensive, but I think they may have made it for me--I didn't actually see a dessert menu, I just asked if they had one).

            10 Replies
            1. re: christy319
              j
              jcattles Oct 19, 2011 08:54 AM

              I went there a few weeks ago & was blown away. I usually don't order chicken at restaurants but the description & the sides sounded so good. It was moist, flavorful, & the skin was crispy. The best chicken I've ever eaten. The sauce was a little salty by itself but when eaten with the ravioli & salad, it was a perfect combination.
              My husband had the pork chop. He liked it, but isn't a fan of truffles or vinegar so he probably wouldn't order it again. I thought it was terrific, it was seared perfectly & juicy. Next time he'll probably order the lamb.
              I could've easily filled up on the bread, I wanted to have the server just dump the entire bread basket in my purse :)
              We'll definitely go back, I would love to order the tasting menu & see what the chefs come up with.

              1. re: jcattles
                m
                MyNameIsTerry Oct 19, 2011 05:17 PM

                When I ordered the tasting menu, it was one of the best meals I've had in Colorado.

              2. re: christy319
                k
                Kelly Oct 20, 2011 02:52 AM

                I'm a huge Rioja fan - we make a point of eating there at least once during our annual trips to Denver - but I have to agree that the tortelloni did not impress me, and that the use of truffle oil is disappointing at best.

                The signature pork belly, in contrast, is divine. I believe I may even have ordered as dessert on one visit. :o)

                They do have a dessert menu, and the cheese plate is definitely on it. I'm surprised to hear it was "odd," as I think they take great care in matching fairly interesting cheeses with equally interesting accompaniments.

                -----
                Rioja
                1431 Larimer Street, Denver, CO 80202

                1. re: Kelly
                  c
                  christy319 Oct 20, 2011 10:10 AM

                  That chicken described by jcattles sounds great; I'll get that next time (even though I too don't usually get chicken at a restaurant).

                  The cheese plate was a hunk of ricotta salata (that's a very strange item on a cheese plate, IMO), a piece of gorgonzola (boring), and a wedge of a creamy washed rind goat cheese (that was fine), for $15. It seemed like an "oh crap, what do we have in the fridge" kind of thing.

                  1. re: christy319
                    m
                    monopod Oct 20, 2011 12:01 PM

                    It's a rare restaurant that has a really solid cheese plate dessert, I'd guess because not enough people order it to justify keeping a bunch of expensive cheeses on hand. So, most end up giving you cheeses that they can use in something else, which doesn't lend itself to the most interesting plates. I've all but given up on ordering them out, as I can always make a much better one for cheaper at home (better suited to my tastes, anyway).

                    1. re: monopod
                      s
                      Strangewine Oct 21, 2011 11:28 AM

                      That being said, the cheese offerings at Z Cuisine are out of this world. You should give them a try if you haven't already done so.

                      1. re: monopod
                        c
                        christy319 Oct 21, 2011 01:22 PM

                        Actually I get good cheese plates routinely at restaurants and even at (better) bars for happy hour. I'm in Seattle, though (I travel to Denver for work), and there are a ton of local cheeses. Maybe that's the difference.

                        1. re: christy319
                          m
                          monopod Oct 21, 2011 02:13 PM

                          Well, my statement was pretty general - I'm waiting for someone to clue me in to the best cheese plates in Boulder/Denver! Sounds like Z Cuisine is worth a go - anywhere else?

                          We do have a few great local cheeses here (Mouco's colorouge, Haystack's peak, and Windsor Dairy's old tom come to mind), but I haven't seen them on a lot of local plates.

                    2. re: Kelly
                      c
                      ClaireWalter Oct 22, 2011 11:20 PM

                      Re cheese plate: Might have been different assortment of cheeses, or one diner's "odd" is another's "interesting."

                    3. re: christy319
                      r
                      rcurtism Oct 28, 2011 01:02 PM

                      I am also mystified by the popularity of the artichoke tortelloni. I can tell you that it is not just a self-proclaimed signature dish - I've sat at the counter by the cold prep station and observed neighboring diners swooning over it on more than one occasion. I found it bland and excessively rich, and I share your reservations about the use of truffle oil.

                      Fortunately, it's an outlier on an otherwise mostly outstanding menu, so don't let it stop you from going back.

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