Larry DiPasquale is expanding his Epicurean Group culinary world. We Coloradans are privy to the exquisite cuisine from Epicurean catered events and marvel at the well-executed menu items at Mangia Bevi Café, and now, the team is taking Italian culture and cuisine to a new and exciting experience with the opening of Bella Cucina Giardino.
Bella Cucina Giardino is a multi-use terrace that functions as a tasting room for the catering group and a destination venue for private events. “Jill, Sharon, Ernie, and I built this for friends, family, employees and clients to gather. It is built on the Italian philosophy of having an open kitchen and sharing food,” DiPasquale says. The terrace is used as a tasting room for the catering business as they often host more than five tastings a day. “The tastings are a relationship-building experience and provide the client with a tactile sense of the foods. It really is the first step in planning any event. The average tasting lasts about an hour to an hour and a half so we love the idea of sharing this environment with clients while they taste the food,” shares Jenna Johansen, Epicurean Innovation Chef.
“In our business, it is about exceeding customers’ expectations. It is building trust with integrity as we build a strong bond together,” says DiPasquale. The casual covered space, which accommodates 40 to 45 guests, features relaxing comforts in every square foot, from the centered fireplace to the Italian Bocce court to the communal dining table. “We’ve incorporated reclaimed and repurposed wood, installed infrared heaters throughout and set up four patio tables for guests to mingle and relax,” shares DiPasquale. As Johansen describes, “The 24-foot dining table was hand made by a really talented craftsman from Colorado. It is a gorgeous communal table.”
The two main areas of the terrace include the Tuscan-spired reception area anchored with a living garden, spearheaded by Executive Chef, Nobert Hiller, and bocce court, and the generously-sized kitchen and dining room. “In the garden, we grow lettuces, herbs and vegetables on hydroponic towers, which we use for dishes we prepare, and our guests get a glimpse of viewing the farm-to-table concept,” Johansen says. “Bocce is a traditional Italian game that our guests can play while enjoying a glass of wine,” adds DiPasquale. The dining area is the main attraction. “The kitchen and dining areas were furnished and built to have a family feel and interaction. In Italy, we go to the garden and pick what is fresh and cook it. We wanted that type of setting here,” he explains.
The kitchen is replete with an Epicurean-inscribed Marra Forni wood-burning pizza oven, Wolf grill, complete refrigeration and a demonstration area large enough for chefs to share culinary preparation with guests. “As guests enter the building, one of the first things they see is the La Dolce Vita (the good life) sign in the kitchen,” says DiPasquale. He continues, “We want our guests to have a whole experience to enjoy from our picking the foods from the garden to grilling and then to their plate. It is all about bringing clients into an enjoyable experience in a comfortable setting.” Mindful of always maintaining a green environment, they built a solar system to power the entire deck and used repurposed wood to build chairs.
Johansen explains how the food preparation will help bring everyone together. “I lived with a family in Italy for a year so I really know the culture and how food is shared and prepared. One of the really amazing preparations that we use is the polenta board. In Tuscany they make delicious polenta and pile it on the center of this beautiful board and surround it with ingredients like fresh tomatoes, olives, preserved eggplant and fresh herbs. It is a wonderful inspiration to bring a community together.” DiPasquale agrees, “In catering, we don’t have a lot of family-shared meals so we love the idea of having the polenta and pizza boards for everyone to share. We’re bringing people together in an intimate setting while sharing family style meals.” Guests will enjoy the demonstrations chefs will share during their experiences on the terrace. “Because we make everything from scratch for the catering business, we really want guests to see and experience how food is made in the back of the house. We’re going to pull our own mozzarella and pizza dough and share all of those techniques with our guests,” Johansen states.
Read the full story in our June / July issue...
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Bio: Kathy Smith is a freelance writer and editor who writes frequently for the New West Publishing family of magazines. As a chef she enjoys cooking, but relies on Epicurean Group for culinary trends.