Update: Tuesday, Oct. 12, 1:45 p.m.: We heard from the Il Postino folks earlier today: They say the restaurant will be open as of 11 a.m., Sunday, Oct. 17.
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I stopped by Il Postino restaurant this morning, which partner Raphael Sassower says is about three weeks away from opening.
The largely Mediterranean/Italian-style restaurant is the first component of the Mining Exchange Hotel venture which will soon reshape the southwest corner of Pikes Peak and Nevada Avenues.
Sassower sat down at a renovation-dust-covered bar with me to expand upon what he first told us about the restaurant in May. He first wanted to emphasize the health and wellness concept that UCCS Beth-El College of Nursing & Health Sciences professor and Il Postino consultant Nanna Meyer is bringing to the outfit.
Meyer is a former Swiss Olympian (downhill and slalom) who also does work for the USOC, such as overseeing the diet of athletes like Apollo Ono. She and Sassower have worked out a partnership in which Meyer's graduate students are working closely with she and chef Jeff Gebott on Il Postino's opening menu. The goal is to ensure high-quality, nutritious food, catering to vegans, vegetarians, meat eaters and the lactose-free and gluten-free crowds: something for everyone.
Beyond that, Sassower says the outfit will use as much local food as is feasible, with respect to season and volume availability. He's also aim to include as many organic items as possible, and otherwise source healthy options such as whole-grain pastas and the like. He's realistic about not being able to achieve 100 percent local, sustainable, etc., as food costs and thereby plate prices would be inflated past a reasonable price for the average customer, especially with respect to the "great recession." But he's emphatic about the outfit trying its best and utilizing the green goods wherever possible.
I also sat down for a minute with chef Gebott to talk about the menu. He says it will initially be a two-page list (including sweets), a "very focused, interesting menu not currently seen in this market" that will include daily specials. There will be no pizza (as Sassower says we have plenty of pizzerias in town serving a good product already), and more of a poultry and vegetable and sustainable seafood list that will also include all-natural Colorado beef.
As for Gebott's background: He graduated from Denver's Art Institute of Colorado and has been in the field for more than 10 years. He's been a private chef, cooked at INVESCO Field and several catering companies. He spent around three years with Ted's Montana Grill and worked a small stint at Rock Bottom Brewing prior to joining the Il Postino project.