In the entryway of Park Hill’s latest restaurant, there’s a poster of a man stuffing his face with pasta. This should set the tone for what happens next, says chef-owner Jon Robbins.
He opened Red Sauce this week as a tribute to a bygone era of East Coast, Italian-American spots — the kind where Chianti bottles and red checkered table cloths serve as decoration, and where the menu lists garlic bread, caesar salad, and spaghetti and meatballs among its specials.
“You’re gonna need two utensils to get all this food in your mouth,” Robbins says of the concept, adding: “We’re not taking ourselves too seriously.”
This from the chef behind one of Denver’s most beloved upscale French restaurants. Robbins opened the new project with partners Megan Silvertooth and Noel Martin as a response to an influx of fine dining and regional Italian restaurants, where once there were good old-fashioned neighborhood hangouts.
All fine dining vets, the team decided that what they really wanted to open next (see previously Bistro Barbès, Temper Chocolates, Souk Shawarma) was a family spot where they would actually eat on a night off. Or any night for that matter: “The reality is this is the stuff I cook for my staff at the end of the night, for family meal,” Robbins says.
In addition to a short menu of dishes such as pasta alfredo, clams, and puttanesca, there is a succinct classic cocktail list, a few beers and wines on tap, and a couple dozen bottles. There aren’t really small plates or plates to share on the menu, just generous portions.
The space fits around 60 diners, with room between tables for kids to run around (not discouraged). Silvertooth, Robbins, and Martin are training local teenagers for front- and back-of-house staff positions. They’re hoping Red Sauce becomes a nightly dinner spot for the neighborhood. “We’re not inventing the wheel; there’s nothing new here,” says Robbins.
Status: Red Sauce is now open for dinner nightly from 5 to 9 p.m. at 2230 Oneida Street.