El Five, the much anticipated Mediterranean tapas restaurant from Justin Cucci, revealed itself in all its shiny glory yesterday to a handful of previewers. The doors to the colorful fifth story space, covered in vintage Turkish cinema posters depicting beautiful women, lovers kissing and fighting, and quotes you will most likely not understand, will open to the public next Wednesday, May 3 at 2930 Umatilla Street Suite 500.
The glowing dark space is anchored by a show kitchen in the middle, flanked by two stunning patios, and dotted with cozy black booths and chairs lined with gold accents. The view is second to none in the the Mile High City. On one side there is the downtown skyline unencumbered and on the other side are the mountains. Side windows give a peek to the bustling Linger patio, the never-ending line at Little Man Ice Cream, and the broader LoHi area.
This fifth restaurant by Cucci (after Root Down, Linger, Root Down DIA, and Vital Root) focuses on the flavors that surround the Mediterranean, from the intuitive Spain, Italy, France, and Greece to the less intuitive Israel, Morocco, Turkey, or Lebanon. Cucci, not a rule follower or one to take subtle approaches, celebrates those cuisines through the use of bold spices, through fusion dishes, and through creations so unique they would make your Spanish or Jewish grandma shout "blasphemy!" "One such creation is the vegetarian paella, a dish that ditches the rice in favor of a lentil and grain blend. Another one is the matzo ball dumplings. "We play with our food" is the motto of Cucci's Edible Beats group and play they do particularly on this menu.
Well-curated Spanish and beyond wines and creative cocktails not only complement the food but offer an extra reason to visit. Bartender Ky Belk adds herbs and fruit to his bright creations and he's committed to drop the overuse of ice that comes from shaking drinks with it then discarding it.
If the photos aren't enough, check out our Facebook Live with Justin Cucci for all the details on this exciting place.