As the Denver food scene continues to grow, we are seeing a lot of restaurants come from other cities. And Cherry Creek seems to be a hub for these transplants: Departure came from Portland, Matsuhisa came from Aspen (and Vail and California), and now Quality Italian came from the Big Apple.
Most of these restaurants have given their menu a Colorado flair though, keeping some dishes special and available only in Denver. Like the baked lasagna at Quality Italian.
Husband and wife chef/partners Scott Tacinelli and Angie Rito wanted to make something fun to match the rest of the menu. They play with their food, in a good way. “Their food is fun and playful, and this dish is no different. I have found that they take classic dishes and elevate them,” explains chef BJ Wojtowicz.
As they were developing this dish, Angie saw a photo of cinnamon rolls on Instagram and it sparked her creativity. She had the idea to make the dish resemble the spirals—leaving the meat outside of the noodles.
“The first time I saw this, I thought it was super creative. And of course, I wanted to eat it,” says Wojtowicz.
The dish starts with sheets of homemade egg noodles. Chef spreads béchamel from corner to corner, the sprinkles a generous helping of parmesan and breaded mozzarella. The sheets are rolled and sliced into pinwheels and placed on top of a simple, homemade tomato sauce.
Then comes the beef. The meatballs are made with ground filet and pecorino and parmesan cheeses. They are scattered between the pasta pinwheels and topped with a fresh pesto sauce: basil, pistachios, pine nuts, olive oil, and lemon juice and zest.
The final piece is piping robiola cream cheese to marry the noodles and the meat.
“This is great for a family to come in and eat together. It’s meant to be shared and it’s definitely a conversation starter for the table.”
He continues: “I like it because you don’t really think of lasagna as a light dish. And though this has a lot of cheese, I think it’s lighter than most because the meat is separate.”
The front of house staff recommends a glass (or bottle) of Chianti or Brunello to help bring out the richness of the tomatoes in the dish. Get it at Quality Italian and day of the week for dinner.