Benzina, a local neighborhood Italian restaurant, opened in a converted mid-century modern gas station on East Colfax Avenue in Denver, CO. Benzina is the first solo concept from prolific Denver restaurateur Brad Anderson, with Consulting Chef Brian Lockwood (Eleven Madison Park, Frasca Food & Wine) and Executive Chef Daniele Bolognini (Acorn) leading the kitchen. The Italian-focused menu will incorporate local ingredients in seasonal salads, family-style appetizers, Neapolitan-inspired pizza, handmade pastas, larger protein entrees prepared in a Mibrasa Charcoal Oven, and classic desserts, with an approachable beverage menu of complementing cocktails, local brews, and wines by the glass and bottle.
Set in a former Phillips 66 gas station at 4839 East Colfax Avenue, Benzina (which translates from Italian to gasoline) has a family-friendly atmosphere, enhanced by the addition of twin bocce courts and urban planters alongside the expansive outdoor dining patio, just in time for summer. The neighborhood restaurant will first serve dinner and takeout Wednesday through Sunday in accordance with the city's guidelines and introduce lunch and brunch services later this summer.
Restaurateur Brad Anderson (who co-owned, with partners Tom Walls and Jerry Good, popular Denver area restaurant concepts including Rocky Mountain Diner, Rick’s Café, Chopper’s Sports Grill, The Castle Café, and The Next Door Bar) has tapped Boulder, CO native Brian Lockwood as the restaurant’s Consulting Chef, overseeing and executing dishes. Brian is working alongside Executive Chef Daniele “Dani” Bolognini (formerly at Acorn) in the kitchen, while experienced bartender and hospitality industry professional Justin Dano will be the General Manager.
“This restaurant has been a long time coming, and I’m extremely proud of the talented team we’ve assembled,” remarks Brad Anderson. “We used the delays and setbacks we faced as a result of the pandemic to our advantage, taking our time to ensure the right team members, processes, and recipes were in place prior to opening.”
According to Brian Lockwood: “After relocating to Boulder from New York City during the pandemic, I was looking for an exciting project to sink my teeth into. It was serendipitous to connect with Brad and find that our approaches to food and service are similar. I can’t wait to see the direction Chef Dani takes the menu in and know the sky’s the limit for Benzina.”
The pizzas are made with a dough comprised of a custom blend of "00” flour, spelt, semolina, and rye, and baked in a Pavesi, a pizza oven from Milan. Sample menu items include:
- Chicken Liver Mousse with rhubarb and pistachio
- Spring Greens with croutons, radish, farmers cheese and lemon
- Mushroom Pizza with maitake, shiitake, taleggio, black pepper and garlic
- Tortelli with English peas, smoked trout, and horseradish
- Spatchcock Chicken citrus-marinated with Calabrian chili, and tarragon yogurt
- Chocolate Tarte with salted caramel and Chantilly cream
- Benzina, a cocktail made with Amaro, Lustau Amontillado Sherry, Sweet Vermouth
The dining experience at Benzina is enhanced by the thoughtfully designed space, for which Anderson called on local architecture and design agency Semple Brown Design, as well as local brand agency Ellen Bruss Design. The effect is a relaxed and comfortable midcentury modern aesthetic that matches the style and era the building was constructed in. Outside, there is ample patio space with bocce courts and galvanized steel tubs that serve as herb and vegetable gardens to supplement the kitchen during the growing season.
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