Frank Bonanno, of the Bonanno Group here in Denver, is a University of Denver alumnus.
As part of his giving back to his alma mater, he cooks each year for a special dinner to kick off the annual DU Vin Festival [this year was the Festival’s 5th], and all proceeds benefit the hospitality program that trains up and comers in the industry.
It’s a treat when Frank cooks; even as a restaurateur with 11 concepts in Denver, from 2 of the most high-end dining experiences you can have in this city [Luca d’Italia, Mizuna] to a noodle house and smokehouse [Bones, Russell’s], he works the line more often than one might think.
We gathered at the Joy Burns Center – which houses the Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality – on May 15th for an evening of specialness.
We began on the patio, with Prosecco and passed appetizers from Mizuna, Luca d’Italia and Vesper Lounge.
Then on to a 5 course meal.
Meat & Cheese Plate | Prosciutto, Coppa, Ricotta, Gnocchi Fritto
Sicilian Calamari | Capers, Crushed Calabrian Chili, Sultanas, House Marinara
Maccheroni Amatriciana | Guanciale, San Marzano Tomatoes, Parmesan
Roasted Lamb Loin | Goat Cheese, Polenta, Garlic Swiss Chard
Chocolate & Caramel Bundino
All wines for both this dinner [5, plus Prosecco], and the 130 different ones available to taste at the Grand Tasting that Saturday, were generously provided by Republic National in Denver.
Here’s the post I wrote on the Festival overall:
As a special bonus, here’s the recipe for Frank’s Sicilian Calamari
Sicilian Calamari with Caper Berries & Bread Crumbs
1 lb calamari
5 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp crushed red chili
3 Tbsp capers
½ cup white wine
8 ounces chopped San Marzano tomatoes
¼ cup flat-leaf parsley
2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
½ cup toasted bread crumbs
8 caper berries
Sharp knife; large sauté pan; large wooden spoon; 4 serving bowls.
1. Slice calamari into ¼ inch rings.
2. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in sauté pan over high flame. Add garlic and chili flake; cook 30 seconds. Add calamari, capers, and white wine; cook 30 seconds more. Add tomatoes and parsley; cook until boiling. Finish with butter. Salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.
Divide into 4 bowls. Top with a generous pinch of bread crumbs. Garnish with 2 caper berries and a drizzle of olive oil.
Other recipes from Luca d’Italia are available for iPad users by downloading the interactive cookbook: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-luca-ditalia-cookbook/id546871572?mt=11