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Bravo! Ristorante (Denver)

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While in Denver to lecture for the Colorado Bar Association, I had the opportunity to stay downtown and to spend some time experiencing a slice of local life.

Niki came with me and we walked a few blocks from where we were staying down to the 16th Street Mall. It should be explained that this is not a mall in any sense of the word that an American is likely to imagine: it's a city street, downtown, that is made for pedestrian traffic augmented by buses that look and feel more like modern streetcars and occasional horse-drawn carriages. Lining the street are wide, comfortable walkways that feed restaurants and retail shops.

We approached Bravo! Ristorante from the street, briefly wondering whether it might be associated with the Bravo Cucina Italiana that we know back in Columbus. We figured that it wasn't because although the familiar restaurant is part of a chain, we didn't think that the company reached quite so far west as Denver. Upon entering, we were shown to a small table for two at a window looking out to 16th Street.

After a perusal of the wine menu, we opted for a half-bottle of Steele Zinfandel Pacini Vineyard Mendocino '01 for $20 and settled in. Niki and I discussed the atmosphere and then started to pay particular attention to the live piano music. She was the first to recognize the piece from “Midsummer Night's Dream”—a lovely movie if you're an opera fan. A few minutes later, we were treated to a bit of Gershwin and the piano was joined by a soprano, a trained voice that belonged to one of the servers.

Additional music followed from Rogers & Hammerstein and Andrew Lloyd Weber. Our own server, a tenor, sang a song. Once it was over, he returned to our table and I asked how a restaurant can get and maintain such talented staff.

Steven told us that it's really a perk. Music is an important part of the restaurant's atmosphere; it's taken seriously. So instead of being “just a waiter,” he can sing things he's perfectly capable of doing but that in practice he wouldn't be cast to perform in an opera.

The evening wasn't just wine and music, though. My dinner was cheese-filled ravioli with vodka cream sauce and I enjoyed it thoroughly. (I do love pasta done well.) Afterward, I had a double espresso along with cannoli. (I do love dessert done well.)

I love the concept and its implementation. We stumbled across the place entirely by accident and had no clue beyond its name that music was such an important part of the overall experience. It was a perfect conclusion to a long (if pleasant) day. The live performance demands attention: it's not just a part of the background but neither is the music a continuous concert that prevents any conversation from taking place. Niki and I found ourselves having ample opportunity to discuss the music itself and having a great in the process.

This is a place that I'll highly recommend and will certainly visit again when I'm next in town.

Created by cmcurtin
Last modified 2006-04-23 11:43 PM
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