Italian cafe and restaurant, Marcella’s Ristorante, Pizzeria and Wine Bar, recently opened on Central St. in LoHi. Just by the looks of the beautiful façade and the extremely inviting, comfortable yet upscale interior, we knew this place would be a worthy addition in the distinguished Highlands restaurant scene.
Marcella’s was named after a house manager and chef at a villa in Tuscany, Italy, that founder Cameron Mitchell visited with his family. Cameron is an Ohio-based restaurateur who also runs two Marcella’s in Ohio as well as Ocean Prime on Larimer Square. Their Executive Chef Jacob Glowacki worked at several Cameron Mitchell Restaurants and also relocated to the Denver venue to head up Marcella’s here.
The menu features dishes such as a braised veal meatball with tomato sauce, wood-fired pizzas, pastas, chicken entrees, and Italian desserts. Their drink menu is just as expansive with a selection of 50 Italian wines served by the bottle, half bottle or glass, sangria, draft beers, and over a handful of interesting, Italian-geared cocktails with house-made liquors and syrups. What we were most impressed by was that such an upscale, lovely place offered such an incredible Happy Hour every Monday through Friday from 4 to 6pm! All the drinks are half off, meaning all the beer is only $3 and fancy cocktails $5.50! For Happy Hour food, the entire menu is half off minus the entrees, so salads, cured meats, cheeses, antipasti, appetizers, and even pizzas (gluten-free available) are half priced!
We sampled so many of these Happy Hour dishes that by the end it was clear Marcella’s definitely has one of the best bang-for-your-buck and largest Happy Hour selections in Denver. Our favorites were Grappa Cured Salmon, Braised Veal Meatball (they are known for this one), Melted Pecorino with crostini, apple and truffle honey, their Sweet Sausage with roasted peppers and cheese, and of course the Pizzas. We sampled the Crispy Potato Pizza which was a flavor overload in a good way, and the lighter, more mild Pesto Shrimp.
After all of this Happy Hour goodness we really didn’t need anymore food, especially as we already had full to-go boxes, but we forged ahead and tried their Gnocchi Bolognese and Spaghetti alla Carbonara. The Carbonara is made of only a few basic ingredients but was overly saturated with oil or butter, the Gnocchi was great however, hearty, flavorful and melted in our mouths. Other entrées we didn’t try but want to include a daily risotto, chicken marsala, linguine & clams, and the Chianti braised beef short rib.
For dessert we were treated to a traditional Tiramisu, a moist Chocolate Almond Cake, and their flaky Cherry Crustada that has a hint of almond and vanilla gelato on top. All three were delicious and met different flavor palettes, but the Cherry Crustada was our favorite.
We recommend you make your way to Marcella's someday soon to fully indulge in all their Happy Hour has to offer - it's worth skipping out of work early for or fighting that 5 o' clock traffic! https://marcellasrestaurant.com/locations-menus/marcellas-denver/
Words by Tiffany Candelaria Photos by Samantha Bliss