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What? It's too soon to hit the Blue Star again? ... We warned you: Expect us any time.

We checked out the eatery's dining side in early May, but said nothing of its expansive bar, now stocked with arguably the most expert mixologist in town, Nate Windham. Many drinkers say no one's more creative, and you voted him the second-best bartender in 2009 when he was at Blondie's, but his decade-long dominance locally spans several other outfits, including a brief but bright stint at the ill-fated Palapa's Surfside.

When we heard word last week about the Blue Star's featured Bellini cocktail, limited to the duration of Italy's white peach availability, we figured it was an opportune moment to grab a bar stool and also sample Windham's seasonal list.


The Blue Star

1645 S. Tejon St., 632-1086, thebluestar.net

Created around 80 years ago in Venice, Italy, the Bellini pairs fresh peach purée with Prosecco, a crisp, fruity Italian sparkling wine. For only the next couple weeks or so, Blue Star bartenders are mixing fresh Italian white peaches with a first-ever Prosecco from 130-year-old, Tuscan-based Ruffino winery. Ten bucks buys a champagne flute, and if you're a bubbly fan, you'll love it. I'm not so much, so I didn't. I wanted more peach flavor and only found it as a yummy, bottom-dwelling sludge on my last sip. My friend summed it up nicely: "It doesn't taste as special as it's made to seem."

We did, however, dig Windham's South of the Border cocktail ($9) of Sauza Hornitos tequila, a killer, four-pepper, house-infused vodka, pineapple juice, honey, lime and cilantro. Sweet, spicy goodness. — Matthew Schniper


Trivelli's Hoagies

2729 N. Nevada Ave., 471-7733, trivellis.net

Bravado is sexy when you can back it up. Calling the original Trivelli's on North Nevada Avenue (there's also an unaffiliated franchise at 4547 Austin Bluffs Pkwy.), I'm not only assured of an authentic Philly Cheese Steak, but dared to find a better one.

Philly-born John and Barbara Trivelli opened the small sandwich shack in 1976. Now, son Steve arrives every morning at 4:30 to prep their Ranch Foods Direct beef. During service, his seasoned flat-top sizzles with beef, onions and cheese while a cauldron of meatballs and marinara sauce simmers nearby. Trivelli's mouthwatering Philly with provolone and onions ($5.26 for a 6-inch) is a juicy, beefy delight tucked into a chewy hoagie roll that cradles it all beautifully. Puffed-up chests I love, when you make damn fine eats. — Monika Mitchell Randall


Dutch Kitchen

1025 Manitou Ave., Manitou Springs, 685-9962

Maybe it was the sugar bomb on my empty stomach, but an hour after helping finish two slices of pie at Mike Flynn's Dutch Kitchen, I was wishing I hadn't.

Made daily and bearing a good powdered sugar- and vanilla-laced whipped cream, each dessert suffered from cool temperatures and density issues. Less an offender than the Dutch apple pie ($4.50), the decent Rhubarb Raspberry Rumble (also $4.50) alternated between very tart and very sweet, and wasn't too thickly congealed. It even had a great buttery and flaky crust, which was weird considering its professed "crumble" intentions. The apple, meanwhile, did contain a casing of pebbly topping, which had thoroughly solidified around a thick, cold and overly lemony filling, from which the slices of fruit struggled to be separated. — Bryce Crawford


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