Restaurant Show Suggestions - Taste of Sicily


November 7, 2015


Italy isn’t very large,  but it is extremely regional. Especially when it comes to food. Situated where it is, through the centuries, the countries that border Italy have had a compelling impact on the way the food is prepared. There’s France on the north, while the south has been visited by Greeks, the Spanish, and the nations of north Africa. So, while we typically characterize the food of Italy as northern Italian or southern Italian, the regional differences go far deeper than that. Of course, when it comes to Italian restaurants in this country, most of the traditional ones offer a range of dishes from throughout the country, all simply labeled as Italian.

But, ever since the “coming soon” sign went up outside a new restaurant billed as Taste of Sicily, we’ve been getting calls on The Restaurant Show from listeners curious to know what we were in store for. Then, about three weeks ago, “coming soon” was replaced by “now open,” and this week we managed to drop by for dinner, and got our first peek at the space. If you’ve been in Denver very long, you’ve probably dined here at one time or another. It’s located on the east side of Quebec, just north of Arapahoe Road behind the Safeway. My furthest memory of it goes back to when it was a Middle-Eastern eatery called Saffron. Then, for a number of years it was Pesce Fresco, and after that it was a succession of various concepts, none of which took hold. It’s a spacious and attractive dining room with a small lounge to one side, and lots of comfy booths that offer a bit of privacy. The new owners have added a splash of color to the space that livens up the atmosphere, and gives it a festive feel. And that, combined with soft lighting and easy-listening music in the background, gives the room a comfortable, inviting feel.

Of course, nobody prepares regional food like someone who’s spent time in the area, so the owners, both of whom are Italian, recruited their kitchen team in Sicily, and then helped them come to this country before giving them free rein to create the menu. And what a menu it is. Not surprisingly, considering Sicily is an island, there’s quite a bit of seafood here, including clams, shrimp, calamari, sword fish and mussels prepared in various styles. Other dishes involve a variety of Italian cheeses, eggplant, pistachios, pine nuts, and other ingredients that reflect the influence of Greece and north Africa.

Being a big fan of mussels we couldn’t resist the steamed mussels swimming in a nicely balanced tomato sauce with the taste of garlic and lots of parsley. Tomatoes again played a part in the Rigatoni alla Norma, a classic eggplant and pasta dish that also incorporated a creamy Sicilian ricotta cheese. Pork, of course, is a staple throughout the world, and at Taste of Sicily we enjoyed a dish of thinly sliced and sautéed slices of pork in a white-wine sauce with loads of artichokes. While we didn’t get to try them, they also offer involtini, or braciole, of pork rolled around a filling of prosciutto, mozzarella and raisins. It’s a popular dish that you don’t find at too many restaurants.

Other items of note are a nice variety of wines, and a killer dessert menu, which includes a totally decadent seven-layer Sicilian chocolate cake, made in-house of course.

Taste of Sicily

6600 S. Quebec St. (just north of Arapahoe behind the Safeway)