Italian hospitality is alive and well at Zino Ristorante |

Italian hospitality is alive and well at Zino Ristorante

Ashlee Bratton

A bocce ball rolls by and you can hear shouts of excitement ring through the summer air. Yep, no doubt about it, you're at Zino Ristorante, at Riverwalk in Edwards.

Stepping in to this mod Italian establishment with oversized Carpano artwork — whether for lunch or dinner — is a welcoming and enjoyable affair. The riverside outdoor patio with signature party lights sets the stage for the bocce court lined with pines in the background, blending the clean lines of the modern Italian décor with the beauty of the Vail Valley. The little patch of blooming columbines reminds you you're still in the Rockies. Co-owner and executive chef Nick Haley proudly states, while smiling, "You can't go wrong with our outdoor patio and bocce court…I even had my wedding reception here."

Another bocce ball rolls by.

You will be perfectly happy starting off with one of their antipasti apps, such as the fresh burrata with house made ricotta and heirloom tomatoes over a bread and basil spread. Ask your server and he may even tell you a fun fact about the establishment — for instance, that pastry chef Molly Harrison makes all the bread for Sweet Basil, Mountain Standard and Dish. Or that the wood-fired pizzas are baked with 100-percent Palisade peach wood and the dough is imported from Napoli.

Pair a glass of bubbly Prosecco with the Zino raviolo (that's singular for ravioli)—a delectably oversized take filled with Maine lobster, Mascarpone, fennel, tarragon and hen's egg situated in a light brown butter sauce for an authentic Italian starter. Or go for one of their signature drinks…with names like The Cougar with orange bitters, Rye Baby with George Dickel Rye, or the Basil Bloody Mary — and you might want to join the bocce ball players sooner rather than later.

The trio of co-owners make a habit of visiting Italy on a regular basis, bringing back new ideas and fresh flavors to share. Chef Haley recently returned from one of these excursions and grinned as he hinted that they have "some fun ideas coming this way." One of the examples of this is the newly concocted tuna dish rolling out this summer, and "fun" just doesn't do it justice. Using a technique called "involtini," the freshly acquired tuna is stuffed with crab, lemon capers, aioli and served with a chickpea puree and pickled garlic. Pair it with a glass of Banfi chianti classico or one of the 108 bottles from the "Vino at Zino" wine selection and you can chime in with the table of eight in their golf gear as they open another bottle and yell out, "Salute!"

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End your meal with an adult version of tiramisu laced with espresso rum and orancello, or try the lemon ricotta torta with raspberries topped with a sea salt chocolate cookie, and candied pistachios. Then, be prepared to sit back and smile.

And if limoncello is your thing, raise a toast with the neon golden liquid and enjoy the atmosphere as yet another bocce ball rolls by. "Salute," indeed. •