This week, Nello Balan, restaurateur and executive chef, opened Nello Alpine, a restaurant inspired by “Swiss alpine chic” and located adjacent to the Residences at the Little Nell at the base of Colorado’s Aspen Mountain. Reminiscent of a modern European chalet, Nello Alpine is inspired by Balan’s European upbringing, welcoming locals and jetsetters alike with a glamorous and authentic Aspen experience by way of the European Alps.
Open daily for breakfast, lunch, après ski, and dinner, as well as brunch on the weekends, Nello Alpine’s menu is Italian-inspired in the dining room, while the Trails menu, offered at the bar, features signature dishes from the top mountain regions of the world, including those in Japan, Switzerland, and Peru, as well as the Colorado Rockies. Dinner menu highlights include Truffle Soup, Osso Bucco al Bosco with veal shank and mountain mushrooms, and Capellini with pomodoro di Nello. The Trails menu includes items such as Scaloppine Schnitzel, Raclette, Croque Monsieur, and Roasted Bone Marrow with parsley salad, lemon zest, and grilled bread.
Nello Alpine boasts a wine program featuring an international selection, including Balan’s own favorites from Campagna, Tuscany, Sonoma, Willamette Valley, and the Russian River Valley. The cocktail program, spearheaded by Costin Tarsoaga, offers classic cocktails such as the Hot Toddy and Old Fashionista, along with specialty cocktails including the Black Rose Caviar, with Black Rose liqueur, Rose’s water, rose bitter, coffee liqueur, and spiced rum; The Nello Royal, with Louis XIII cognac, Grand Marnier Cent Cinquantenaire, and demerara sugar; and the Green 007, with grapefruit vodka, Cointreau, pear juice, cucumber, and basil.
Balan and his team of collaborators, chief among them Brook Sherick from the Aspen Design Room, created an “alpine chic” ambiance for the space. The design is a combination of natural Aspen elements, such as oak and leather, with chic elements such as crystal and glass. The dining room features two large Swarovski crystal chandeliers from Holland, cowhide benches, a flamed oak bar, and leather banquettes. The terrace, overlooking Aspen Mountain, features an outdoor bar, comfortable seating, and standing heaters, allowing guests the opportunity to relax in a cozy setting with a spectacular view.
The artwork for Nello Alpine is curated by highly acclaimed hacker collective Ruse Laboratories, whose cutting edge exhibitions are featured in top international museums, galleries and private collections. In 2015, Ruse Laboratories revolutionized the art world with the world’s first exhibition and auction of algorithms at the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City. Nello Alpine opens with a groundbreaking exhibition by technologist Rich Jones, entitled “Wilderness in Deep Neo-Akkadian Style.”
Born in Transylvania and raised in Switzerland, Balan comes to Aspen after spending over 25 years visiting the town with his family. A seasoned restaurateur, past ventures have include Nello in New York City, Nello St. Tropez, and Nello Summertimes in Southampton, as well as the Cipriani brand.
“I am thrilled to have the chance to open Nello Alpine in Aspen,” Balan says. “My family grew up skiing here and I’ve been on the lookout for a great space to open a restaurant. Nello Alpine captures what I love best about the European alpine experience and brings it to Aspen.”