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Gaetano’s has a very colorful past. The Smaldone family founded the Italian-American restaurant in 1947, serving homemade pasta and meatballs doused in red sauce in the dining room while book-making and other less savory operations went on behind closed doors – which explained the bulletproof glass in the front of the joint. Ultimately, the family discontinued that portion of their operations, then sold Gaetano’s altogether to the Wynkoop Group, which, nearly a decade later and now partnered with Breckenridge Brewery, undertook a major renovation, knocking down walls and revamping the menu. When the changes were unveiled in the summer of 2012, they came as a shock to generations of north Denverites – but the new interior was actually a pleasant surprise, with big windows (not bulletproof) and comfortable booths by the bar. The menu updates were less successful. When in doubt, go with dishes flavored by the old-school Gaetano’s, including meatballs (offered both as an app and a side), lasagna and gnocchi. And for an offer that you – and the kitchen – really can’t refuse? Ask for the on-request-only pasta topped with sausage, green peppers and a very traditional red sauce.
I'm a big fan of cocktails and have been drinking them longer than some of my coworkers have been alive. But for many people who have never had a real cocktail, ordering one for the first time can be ... More »
Daniel Ramirez Gaetano's 3760 Tejon Street 303-455-9852 www.gaetanositalian.com/ Part one of my interview with Daniel Ramirez, exec chef of Gaetano's, ran yesterday; this is part two of our chat. ... More »
Daniel Ramirez Gaetano's 3760 Tejon Street 303-455-9852 www.gaetanositalian.com/ This is part one of my interview with Daniel Ramirez, exec chef of Gaetano's; part two of our chat will run tomorr... More »
A friend and I ate at Gaetano's on Friday, December 21. The service was great. The food was middling to good. Our waitress graciously suggested that we share the whole-leaf Caesar salad, and half a salad was plenty. I ordered the eggplant, which turned out to be merely the glue that held together two sides of the somewhat oil-laden breading. The accompanying side of pasta was ordinary. No cheese was offered. I won't be ordering the eggplant again. The tiramisu was delicious and plenty for two people, despite the fact that is was light and airy. Disappointingly, the restaurant only offers three wines by the glass - a white blend from IMT and a red from IMT, and a prosecco. The selection of wines by the bottle was broad and reasonably priced, but it made no sense to order a bottle when one of us wanted white and the other wanted red.
The noise level was off the charts, and grew worse when a group decided to wait for a table (the waiting area is inadequate and they drifted up the aisle close to our table). One of the party was braying like an ass, having apparently partaken liberally of pre-dinner drinks elsewhere. I was disappointed that the management did not ask her to lower her voice, because she was obviously bothering more than just me.
I'll give Gaetano's another try, but I hope that the chef steps up the level of the pasta offerings. I also won't go on a Friday or Saturday night, due to the noise level.
It's worth hanging out at Gaetano's just to banter with the endearing kooks who belly up to the bar. There's the guy who insists on having his burger well-done and a half dozen "pats" of butter with his basket of white bread; the woman who orders shot after shot of Jack and never seems to slur or stumble; the old-timer who starts every sentence with "Remember when..." And his buddy who kicks his stool, a reminder that Gaetano's isn't that place anymore. But while the barflies definitely keep... More »
Though now a member of the Wynkoop family of bars and restaurants, this old-time neighborhood Italian joint and former Mob bar still has a couple things going for it. First, the atmosphere (bulletproof front door, basement vault, Frank-and-Dino-at-the-Copa decor) and fifty-odd years of history at Gaetano's can't be bought, but must be earned. And second, the tenders working behind the comfortable, dark bar (perfect for daytime drinking) know how to assemble those classic cocktails that never... More »
Only in Denver will you find an Italian restaurant doing something interesting with New Mexican chiles, and only at Gaetano's will you find "Tasty Treats." This bizarrely Southwestern take on Italian stuffed peppers puts green chiles and ground sausage inside a pastry shell, and gross as that may sound, it's actually quite a tasty treat indeed. When the Wynkoop family of restaurants bought this venerable restaurant from the Smaldone family, the new owners were wise to keep the Tasty Treats,... More »