Peak & Prairie
April / May 1999
The Rialto Café ...
"Pleasing to the eye and to the palate."
by Vinnie Piturro
The Rialto Caf" is an eclectic blend of styles, featuring New American and fresh, aesthetically beautiful yet simple dishes. The decor is new-retro, with ample amounts of wood and tastefully touched mis-en-place. Located in the Marriott Courtyard Hotel at 939 16th Street, this is not your average hotel restaurant.
The restaurant is just two blocks away from the Denver Center For the Performing Arts, making it an excellent stop for dinner before a show, or afterward for dessert and cocktails. The chef, Tim Opiel, well known, and equally well trained, has put together an excellent menu and an excellent staff.
Recommended appetizers include the Artichoke and Fennel, a lightly dusted ensemble of artichoke and fennel pieces, flash fried to perfection and the Peppered Ahi, seared ahi tuna with pickled ginger, wasabi, soy and cucumber salad.
Salads are fairly simply, and serve to complement, rather than displace, the meal. The House Greens is a serviceable rendition of the dinner salad, but the Caesar Salad is the winner of the Greens. The whole leaf romaine hearts and focaccia croutons, save Christopher Robin's table-side Caesar at Cliff Young's, is on one of the best in town.
The Lunch menu has the usual suspects: The burger, the salmon sandwich, grilled chicken breast sandwich, and the steak sandwich. The focaccia buns are a nice touch to the lunch routine. The Portabello Mushroom sandwich is perfect for the vegetarian, and won't have you in REM by 3 p.m. back in yourcube.
Dinner at the Rialto Caf" can be a entirely different proposition. You will find diners all along Maslow's triangle here, including burger eatingball-game goers to wining and dining, tuxedo clad opera lovers. When the weather is warm, The Rialto offers some of the best patio seating downtown. With it's completely movable front window, you may feel as though you are dining al fresco, while still inside the restaurant.
The Sugar-Cured Pork Chop with mango-rum chutney, and the Sesame Seared Ahi Tuna with coconut curry broth are listed under the "Classics" heading, do not disappoint. The Penne with Wild Mushrooms is a tasty alternative to the heavier, meat-lover's portion of the menu, and the Capellini Pomodoro is a staple that can't miss. The only complaint here would be the lack of choices for the vegetarian. The meat-heavy menu does reflect the mentality of the area in which we live, yet does not reflect the future, and the token vegetarian dishes are not up to the level of the rest of the menu. The talented staff could do much better in this area.
They couldn't do much better in the dessert area, however. The innovative "Cuban," a chocolate cigar filled with ice cream topped with raspberry sauce, wins the originality award. The "Chocolate Tower," a chocolate cake and vanilla bean ice-cream filled chocolate edifice with raspberry sauce, defies gravity and the eager spirit.
The service is excellent, especially at dinner, when the highly trained and knowledgeable staff is on duty. The Rialto has live music at various times, so call ahead for show times and performers. Overall, The Rialto Caf" is a gem. Pleasing to the eye, the palate, the wallet. The Rialto Caf" does what most restaurants in town would only wish to do: offer an excellent dining experience from beginning to end.
For more information, call (303) 893-2233. The Rialto Cafe serves breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week, as well as brunch on Saturday and Sunday.[chapter/PANDP/footer.htm]