Interestingly enough, I was up in Evergreen, CO, a few weeks ago and was in desperate need of some new reading material. I walked around the cabin I was staying in and glanced down at a somewhat concealed bookshelf next to the bed. I reached down and grabbed this book; dusted it off and turned it over and it was “Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy”, by Frances Mayes. Without giving away the entire story line I will say that literary it gave me a visual dream of vineyards, white wine, red wine, music, cobblestone roads, and pasta dishes that gave a sense of fervency that I longed for. I brought this lucid dream back to Colorado Springs and headed over to Red Gravy with a hungry belly.
The location, 23 S. Tejon, used to be remembered as The Olive Branch for over 30 years before closing in 2013. Then, briefly it was leased to Lucha Colorado Cantina that closed in 2015. Finally, a partnership started with Colorado Mountain Brewery chef, Eric Brenner, who pitched an upscale, but modern Italian restaurant. You might remember him from his success on “Guy’s Grocery Games”, where he crossed the finish line with his tomato bisque. Read more here: http://www.saucemagazine.com/blog/?p=38950
When I walked in, I immediately was struck by the fresh Parmesan in the air and the note on the chalkboard that Thursday was “Ladies Night”, ½ off wines and $8 specialty drinks. Perfecto! I ordered a new imported Australian Sauvignon Blanc and started with the featured appetizer, Toasted Ravioli. The outside of the ravioli was crispy and had a fair amount of Parmesan and basil. The sauce was hearty and I was giggling about the punch of tang that came with that first bite.
The entree I selected was their signature Sunday Gravy which was a rigatoni pasta with sausage, pork and grana pandano, i.e., a grainy cheese that is less nutty and more delicate than Parmigiano-Reggiano. The portion was very generous and the tomato sauce was again the main element that hit my palate. I didn’t taste the meat coming through as I typically do with other pasta dishes. But, sometimes a sauce is what brings you to your knees and this definitely had me a bit wobbly. My only suggestion was to clean up the presentation and wipe down the excess sauce on the side or under the plate; a little finesse can elevate a dish from good to great.
I believe the highlight for me was trying the Chicken Gnocchi. This dish blew my taste buds out of the water. I closed my eyes and immediately tasted the tart of the balsamic reduction on the pillowy gnocchi. There was a slight honey fragrance coming from the artichokes and mushrooms. In addition, there was a pounded out chicken breast on top with arugula, however, I didn’t think that the chicken was really needed. Again, the presentation needed tweaking. Overall, the dish was superb and I was jealous that I didn’t order it.
Here are a couple of other dishes that were sampled:
Our Culinary Capers group were diverse in their selections which made my time pretty enjoyable as I was able to try most dishes and be able to give a more informed review.
I believe that this restaurant was a true testament to what a good sauce can do to a dining experience. The wait staff were attentive and timely in their service and we felt very welcomed. While it wasn’t your Old World Italian restaurant vibe with Andrea Bocelli playing in the background, it certainly gave you a feeling that Red Gravy can hang with the best of them.