Review: Panzano, Denver
Panzano is an Italian restaurant with excellent service and very good food made from mostly organic, local ingredients. It was the best restaurant that we visited on our recent trip, and we ate breakfast there four times and lunch twice. The only reason that I review it as four hearts instead of five, is because I think it is more expensive than it should be.
Panzano is connected to the Hotel Monaco on 17th and Champa. You can access it from the hotel or it’s separate street entrance. It has a long bar, bar tables with tall chairs, and regular dining tables and booths. You’ll notice the delicious-looking breads on the rack, and the flaming pizza oven.
The staff here is exemplary. Everyone from the hostess to the bartender to the wait staff was very friendly and attentive, and seemed to really pay attention to our needs. They actually look you in the eye when they speak to you, which is sadly becoming very rare in young people. I showed up for lunch with a bad cold, and the waitress took one look at me and said, “Oh. Can I bring you some ginger tea?”
We first went for breakfast because we were staying in the Hotel Monaco (you can read my review here) and it was the most convenient place, but after that first yummy breakfast, we kept going back. My husband usually ordered the omelette of the day, which he loved, and I usually got the berry pancakes ($12). The pancakes were very light and absolutely delicious. Once they had a special of caramelized pineapple pancakes, so I branched out and got those instead, and they were every bit as good as it sounds. The lattes were fantastic ($4), so breakfast was perfect every day. Sometimes we toyed with the idea of trying another restaurant for breakfast, but why mess with a good thing?
Since that pizza oven was intriguing to us, we ordered salads and pizza for lunch one day. My husband had the small mixed greens salad, which was $9, just mixed greens, and very small. I had the small grilled Caesar, ($9.50) also very small, but really flavorful. We ordered the eggplant Parmesan pizza ($20), which had very thinly sliced eggplant. It was tasty, although I would have preferred a bit more sauce. Our favorite was the Funghi pizza ($19), a white pizza with mushrooms and truffle oil that really hit the mark. The pizzas had a thin, chewy crust. One pizza may be too small for two people, but we couldn’t finish two pizzas and had leftovers for the next day. We completed our meal with perfectly balanced lattes. Although we enjoyed our lunch, I thought it was overpriced: $20 for a small pizza, and $9 for a small handful of lettuce is too much.
On another day we each had the special for lunch: salmon served on a bed of farro with crispy carrots. It was pretty, and it was delicious. The serving size was a bit small for my husband, but just right for me. We didn’t ask about the price upfront, and when we got the bill we were surprised to find out it was $29. We shared a tiramisu for dessert ($9), and honestly, it was the best we ever had. If you’re in downtown Denver, go to Panzano. I highly recommend it.