EAT: Toscanini brings family Italian dining to the heart of Beaver Creek Village
Special to the Daily
Editor’s note: This story first appeared as a paid feature in EAT magazine, highlighting restaurants across the valley.
Children bundled in layers of coats and scarves skate in concentric circles around the ice rink, waving like hand-sock puppeteers in their oversized mittens to parents on high-backed couches clustered around the fire pits that pepper Beaver Creek Plaza.
Situated steps from the rink, the warm light and rustic hospitality of Toscanini Ristorante beckon, and families are reunited as they drift in out of the cold with rosy cheeks and smiles to cozy up with a few of Executive Chef John Zavoral’s culinary creations.
A veteran of fine dining Italian cuisine, Zavoral’s Rocky Mountain journey has taken him through the kitchens of The Wildflower and Cucina Rustica in the Lodge at Vail, The 10th on Vail Mountain and to Campo di Fiori in Vail Village before whisking him down the road to Beaver Creek.
From staples like traditional balsamic-drizzled bruschetta with burrata, olive oil, tomatoes and basil to his signature pan-seared scallops with wild mushroom risotto and truffle butter sauce, Zavoral has mastered the genre, and his theme for Toscanini’s winter menu is Italian comfort food: some hearty dishes, some light, and many shareable.
“We want to treat our guests like family,” he said. “Which leads to our experience and what our service is all about: family. We even emphasize this with our team. We all sit down together and relax a bit before service with a family meal.”
A good place to start is the chef’s choice carpaccio, which today is gossamer slices of elk with lemon aioli, accented with arugula and crunchy, deep-fried capers. The communal approach continues through the restaurant’s selection of pizzas, including the Figura, a medley of poached figs rehydrated in red wine, sugar and port; Parma ham, red onion and balsamic dusted in First Snow cheese from Jumpin’ Good Goat Dairy in Buena Vista.
A classic lemoncello fizz or negroni is the perfect digestif between courses before digging in to Toscanini’s pastas and proteins: house-made ravioli pillows stuffed with butternut squash and toasted with crispy pancetta in a sage-brown butter sauce or pork shank braised tender with baby carrots and gremolata on a bed of whipped potatoes.
Other Italian classics include bolognese lasagna, vodka penne or sundried tomato pesto ballerine with grilled artichokes, or choose the beef fillet with ricotta cavatelle, wild boar sausage and gouda fonduta. Each flavor is magnified by an expert pairing from the restaurant’s award-winning, 100% Italian wine list.
The moon rises over the mountains and children yawn with contentment, snuggled up in the arms of their parents, who savor bites of delicate sorbet or decadent tiramisu coupled with a frothy latte or shot of espresso to complete the meal.
“Toscanini is where guests are treated like family as they gather rink-side for timeless Italian cuisine,” Zavoral said. “We love being a part of each guest’s experience.”
Antipasti e zuppe: $10-$22
Pasta and secondi: $22-$48
Lively and informal Italian fine dining
Pan-seared scallops with wild mushroom risotto and truffle butter sauce