I have to be honest: I don’t often think of Cherry Creek when I’m looking for a fun place to go for dinner. Very often, Cherry Creek lives up to its stereotype of being an expensive, pretentious neighborhood. However, I’ve recently discovered that there’s also a lot of great food to be had in Cherry Creek — and great in a foodie way, not in a “I just paid $50 for this steak, so it must be good” kind of way. One of the places I definitely recommend visiting is North Italia (190 Clayton Lane), which is a more modern, upbeat version of your traditional Italian restaurant (but still with delicious, made-from-scratch Italian food). And it’s surprisingly affordable!
The Atmosphere & People
Maybe I’ve judged Cherry Creek too much, but I was pleasantly surprised by how “cool” it was in here. Apparently, North gets pretty packed on a daily basis. It has a fun, upbeat buzz that makes it a really great place to come with friends or on a date. And the staff is young and friendly and great to chat with (if you’re sitting at the bar). I really couldn’t find anything to even complain about (which is pretty rare for me).
The Drinks & Food
There’s some great Italian wines here (duh), but I would also highly recommend trying the Julietta cocktail (even though it’s $10). I’m a sucker for cocktails with herb- or spice-infused liquor. And this is a vanilla- and ginger-infused Smirnoff with St. Germain, lime, and prosecco. It may look a little girly, but guy or girl, you should give it a try.
The menu pretty much had me at “Heirloom Beet Salad” (I’m a sucker for beets). It’s a mix of roasted golden beets, apples, arugula, hazelnut, ricotta, and lemon crème fraiche. Now, I’m not usually one to rave about a “salad,” but this salad is pretty damn amazing. It’s not one of those “here’s a bunch of arugula and 3 pieces of beets” kinds of salads. The hazelnuts were a pretty genius addition, too. I’d eat it every day.
If you knew me, you’d know how hard it was for me not to get the beef short ribs ($25) or the prosciutto-wrapped pork tenderloin ($22). But the “Bolognese” is the house specialty, so I felt like on my first visit here, I had to give it a try. And oh man am I glad I did. For just $16, you get a bowl of made-from-scratch pasta smothered in an amazing meat sauce, and topped with grana padano cheese. It definitely tastes like it’s made-from-scratch and is bursting with great Italian flavors, and even though it’s not your traditional Spaghetti Bolognese (as you can tell from the photo), I actually like this better. A flat pasta just holds meat much better than a slippery round noodle (and it’s important to get all that meat!).
The Happy Hour
If your concern is more about the price, North also has a great Happy Hour (3-6pm Mon-Fri and all day Sunday). You can get $4 glasses of wine or sangria, $16 bottles/pitchers, $3-$4 snacks, $8 pizzas, a $10 board of meat/cheese, or a $20 bottle+pizza or bottle+board. I did that last one the last time I was here — and man what a deal that was! Pretty hard to beat as far as happy hours in Cherry Creek go!