Monday, May 5, 2014

GOZO, A new restaurant in town

Lately I have been disappointed with some of my favorite restaurants in town.  I have found that the main ingredient in the entree has been over looked.  I had a chicken confit the other night and the reduction sauce over-powered the chicken so much, I could not eat it.  I had a lovely scallop dish at another restaurant and it was all about the presentation than the entree itself.  Don't get me wrong, I love and appreciate a creative presentation and I do love sauces. 
I guess that is why I never tire of the cuisine of Spain because of the way the food is prepared:  a clean, simple dish where the main entree shines without having to be disguised with heavy sauces and myriad of other ingredients.  
That is why I have fallen in love with GOZO.  Only open for a few weeks, Gozo embraces the clean, fresh foods found in Mediterranean cuisine with its servings of small plates, pizzas and pastas with a few larger entree items thrown in such as grilled prawns, braised pork shoulder and roasted sea bass.
The decor is elegant but at the same time, very casual.  It reminds me of some of my favorite tapa places in Barcelona.  The interior is sleek and clean.  There is a bold painting at the end of the bar and really cool, unusual lighting through out the space.
On our first visit, we started with the grilled octopus.  A beautiful smokey, grilled flavor and so tender.   The grilled thin slices of potato, red pepper slices and onions were just as flavorful.  A real winner.

Saturday we stopped in for lunch with my parents and we started with the charred scallion pizza.  The tomato sauce I found delicious and as were the topping but the crust was a bit tough and in my opinion, could have used a little salt.
The pork meatballs and ragu were very flavorful but that polenta was out of this world!  Creamy, creamy, creamy!  I could eat that for breakfast any day.
Then there was the bruschetta - fried strips of pork belly that had caramelized slightly.  Set on top of slices of grilled bread that was slathered with roasted scallion butter.   Sublime. 
The deep fried calamari will not disappoint you!  Lightly battered, the calamari is perfectly cooked along with large slices of red onion and fennel.  The lemon aioli brightens the flavors.  And I love the half lemon that had been charred!  Charring the lemon brings out the sweetness and breaks down some of the acidity.  So how do you do it... heat your trusty cast iron skillet over medium to high heat.   Cut the lemon (or any citrus of your choosing) in half.  Brush a little olive oil on the cut (flesh) side.  Place flesh side down in the skillet and cook for about five minutes or until charred.  Yumm.

This pasta dish was perfectly prepared and the flavors were unbelievable.  The Strozzapreti is handmade.  The pasta is rolled out in sheets and then cut into strips.  The strips are lightly rolled or twisted between the palms.  What a great pasta to capture all the flavors of this dish.  The use of lemon with the fresh spinach and toasted breadcrumbs were delicious.
Great menu.  Good  prices.  Great wait staff.  And the wine list has some nice Italian, Spanish and California wines on it too!

There was an article in the most recent issue of Food and Wine (May 2014), Are Big Flavors Destroying the American Palate?  It talks about how diners are looking for food with a bigger punch.  Food is being pickled, lathered with Sriracha... even cocktails are packing a  spicier  punch and some even come with a pickle-juice chaser.  Again, give me a true, clean martini with noting else thrown in except a lemon peel or a full-bodied Cabernet any day.  And give me clean, true food!
I haven't been excited about a new restaurant in a long time and Gozo nails it!  

30 South Broadway
Denver, Colorado
Lunch:  Friday - Sunday ( I hope they will soon be open Tuesday - Sunday)
Dinner:  Tuesday - Sunday