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Roasted chicken from bb’s 

Season’s Eating

by Linda Hayes | Photography by Anthony Garito Guadalupe Laiz and Ashley Davis Tilly | Aspen magazine | December 10, 2013

Grand Opening
Look for Acquolina Trattoria & Pizzeria (415 E. Main St., 970.925.8222, acquolinaaspen.com) recently opened in the Main Street space formerly occupied by Gisella, and before that, Farfalla and Gusto, all by Luigi Giordani and Elizabeth Plotke-Giordani. A solo venture by Giordani (Plotke-Giordani will continue to run long-standing Campo de Fiori), Acquolina is Roman slang for “mouthwatering,” which the distinctly casual setting delivers by way of dishes that certainly qualify, including homemade pastas (orecchiette, gemelli and garganelli) and pizzas (napoletana, pomodori and capricciosa), plus risotti, contorni and focacce, from Executive Chef Filiberto “Berto” Paglia. Lost in translation? Make a reservation!

Join the Club
A new winter menu at Chefs Club by FOOD & WINE in The St. Regis Aspen Resort (315 E. Dean St., 970.429.9581, chefsclub.com) features highly finessed dishes by executive chef and longtime Alain Ducasse cohort Didier Elena, paired with specialties by a quartet of Food & Wine magazine’s lauded Best New Chefs: Bryant Ng of The Spice Table in Los Angeles; Jason Franey of Canlis in Seattle; Viet Pham of Forage in Salt Lake City; and Missy Robbins, formerly of A Voce in Manhattan. In addition, over the next few months, look for each BNC chef to host dinners and a lunchtime culinary demo. Save these dinner dates! Robbins: Jan. 9-12; Franey: Jan. 23-26; Ng: Feb. 13-16; and Pham: Feb. 27-Mar. 2.

This Little Piggie
As if the potential for fresh tracks isn’t enough to lure you out of bed in the morning, element 47 in The Little Nell (675 E. Durant Ave., 970.920.6330, element47aspen.com) is serving up 3 Lil’ Piggies to early risers on powder days of 6 inches or more. Not so little, though, this piggie is serving up 3 Lil’ Piggies to early risers on powder days of 6 inches or more. Not so little, though, this piggie is a quarter-pound of slow-roasted shaved porchetta, and smoked and seared pork belly heaped on an egg-battered French toast waffle, only to be topped with housemade sausage gravy and a fried egg. (It’s not on the menu, so consider this your heads up to get up.)

Come-Back King
After a brief detour to the Brown Palace in Denver, Justin Schreiber has returned to Ajax Tavern (685 E. Durant Ave., 970.920.6334, ajaxtavernaspen.com), this time as executive chef. (He replaces Matt O’Neill, who’s moving to the soon-to-open David Burke Kitchen). A Little Nell vet, Schreiber’s also spent time at Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder and, perhaps most notably, at 32 East in Delray Beach, Fla., where he cooked under Ajax’s popular opening toque, Nick Morfogen. Dishes such as savory duck confit poutine with fried cheese curds and mushroom gravy (the ultimate bar food); flat-iron steak with slabs of herbed frites; and roast chicken with poppy-seed spaetzle are top newbies. The double cheeseburger and truffle fries remain, natch.

Kitchen Confidential
When bb’s kitchen (525 E. Cooper St., 970.429.8284, bbskitchen.com) reopens Dec. 14, it will get a new name (simply called bb’s) plus a whole new concept for dinner and—sorry, folks—no more breakfast or lunch. But owner Bruce Berger and Executive Chef Katie Lorenzen-Smith have put their passions for food and travel onto the menu, which will offer a wide selection of globally influenced small plates (kung pao sweetbreads, a trio of pierogis, country-fried hamachi collar), in addition to more traditional fare (New York strip, roasted half chicken) and a variety of sides. Wine and/or cocktail pairings will be offered for each dish, as is a customized chef’s menu with wine pairings from Lorenzen-Smith. Look for the entire shebang on offer in bb’s lounge and bar, too.

Hill Country
On the hill, skiers and boarders will fare well at Aspen/Snowmass’ (aspensnowmass.com) restaurants, all overseen by Jim Butchart, executive chef of SkiCo’s Mountain Division. … This season, Tommy Tollesson, co-owner of the former Elevation in town, will manage the tiny, yet formidable, Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro atop Aspen Highlands. … Former banquet chef for The Little Nell, Nick Fine, is taking over the kitchen at Elk Camp on Snowmass, continuing opening chef Andrew Helsley’s hugely successful gourmet market-style eats (Helsley, meanwhile, has moved into an executive sous chef spot under Butchart). … And, down at Bumps, bakery chef Pablo Hanrahan’s cakes, cupcakes and other homemade treats will sweeten your day at Buttermilk. … Slide in!

Toque Talk
We couldn’t wait for David Burke’s new David Burke Kitchen (davidburkekitchen.com), slated for a late-January opening, to sample what the superchef—owner of David Burke Townhouse, Primehouse and Fishtail in NYC, among others—has in store. Here, a taste.

You’re an annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen regular, but why open a restaurant here?
I love Aspen. There is such a sense of community and belonging. … I feel our farm-to-table restaurant is very approachable and fits extremely well to service both residents and tourists. And besides, I love skiing and hiking.

How will Aspen’s David Burke Kitchen differ from your other concepts?
With the active lifestyle of Aspen, our restaurant will have a much more healthy approach than our other restaurants. Our restaurants all use the finest products available, but we have a real opportunity to use greater amounts of local Colorado ingredients. We hired a very talented chef, Matt O’Neill, who has worked and developed fantastic relationships with local farmers and vendors, as he has lived in the Aspen area for several years. The design of the restaurant will feel as [if] it belongs as part of the landscape, with rustic woods and an outdoor area with Aspen Mountain views. We will also have a lounge and event space, the Cricket Room, to cater to large parties.

What should we be looking forward to eating?
Look forward to all the finest ingredients available, such as whole roasted fish, lobster steak, tableside salads, my specialty-patented David Burke dry-aged salt brick beef, suckling pig, bison steak on the bone and, of course, homemade pastries.

Will we see you in the kitchen?
Yes, I like working closely with my culinary teams, cooking and being involved in all aspects and every detail. I enjoy collaborating with all my staff and team members beyond the kitchen, [from] wine lists to service touch points. I love roaming the dining room and meeting people.

May we book a table now?
We expect to be open in late January, but construction and weather can be tricky. We will be ready to accept reservations starting Jan. 2, 2014.