New Executive Chefs at Luca and Mizuna Update Established Menus

2018 was a big season for Frank Bonnano. His already well-established empire was joined by the gigantic downtown food-court Milk Market, nearly doubling his already significant restaurant footprint using an additional 16 in-house concepts. It should really come as no surprise that the chef hasn’t been spending in the kitchen.

They say that the best way to run a company that is good is to locate people you delegate and trust. Luca and Mizuna — two of Bonnano’s oldest and most prestigious concepts — recently established new executive chefs, both of whom are updating the menus while still preserving the classics that have made the 2 places institutions in town ’s fickle dining scene.

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Blake Carini moved to Denver in 2016, then working at Bistro Barbès for nearly two decades prior to accepting the position at Luca, although Shawn Waters — the chef at Mizuna — rose from inside. Both chefs are enjoying some creative wiggle-room, but nothing has changed so as to be past recognition.

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Carini is the executive chef to take the reigns Luca has occupied its Grant Street home. “He includes a solid philosophy. I am understood by him but knows what he wants to do,” stated Bonnano, illustrating the trust shared between the two. Carini took the part in part because of his excitement s robust house-made cheese and charcuterie app. Even the fresh-stretched mozzarella ($10) is one of four cheeses made on site daily and is one of the most critical items on the menu.

The Luca meatball ($10) is one of the restaurant’s most well-loved items. The dish comes with caramelized onion sugo, pecorino and house-marinara and apparently will have a location on the list in part due to a very legitimate fear of instant mutiny if it were to be eliminated. The squid ink spaghetti — one of Carini’s dishes — is linked with ‘nduja sugo, micro and shrimp radish. The plate excels in its simplicity, every ingredient that is bold reinforces the flavor of the few.

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Mizuna — that the more upscale of the two — is also Bonanno’s restaurant, with first opened its doors in April 2001. The fare depends on French procedure, however Mizuna is not any bistro. More towards combined fine-dining lean. The menu is full of the expected trappings often associated with white tablecloths gras, sweetbreads, lobster and ostrich litter the menu.

Waters’ increase to the executive chef standing arrived. After years working on the line at Mizuna, he did a stint at Luca before returning around the corner to maintain the throne. His familiarity with the dishes and the inner workings of the kitchen has created for a smooth ascension — that the menu continues on its due path under his direction.

The foie gras dish ($25) is seared foie gras in salty pie crust, joined by foie gras ice cream, salted caramel and fennel apple shake. The appetizer could be a dessert the elements that are candy don’t swallow the foie’s flavor. Even the veal sweetbreads ($21) are served with king sized trumpet mushrooms, Semolina chevre and coated truffled Madeira demi-glace. The Beef Wellington ($45) is an excellent iteration of the English classic. It comes complete with foie gras fish of the woods mushroom cipollini plus a smear of purée that is sunchoke.

Bonanno is in the process of setting one of the town ’s food legacies that are longlasting and significant. Both menus prove that the restaurateur put his hope in the hands.

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Luca is located at 711 Grant St., Denver. It’s available Wednesday – Saturday 4:30 – 10 p.m. and Sunday 4:30 – 9 p.m. 

Mizuna is located at 225 East 7th Ave., Denver. It’s available Tuesday – Saturday 5 – 10 p.m.

All photography by Alden Bonecutter.

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