Toscanini a place to dine, relax at Beaver Creek | VailDaily.com

Toscanini a place to dine, relax at Beaver Creek

Editor's note: This article was previously published as a paid feature in EAT, a compendium of restaurant snapshots featuring the best in Vail Valley dining. Look for it on newsstands everywhere.

Sitting along the paned windows at Toscanini, gazing at skaters gliding on the ice as fire pits warm the scene, feels like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting. Yet, inside, Toscanini's atmosphere lends a modern vibe, with boldly colored artwork, soft amber lighting, and racks of imported wine.

The menu reveals an innovative approach to Italian cuisine, through the use of Colorado cheeses and other local products. The house-made sauces, pastas and desserts highlight Executive Chef John ZaVoral's high standards for his menu — and everything tastes so fresh. Chef John ZaVoral focuses on presenting "clean flavors," as he lets the ingredients shine for themselves.

Starters and mains

Appetizers like the creamy lobster bisque or light and earthy beet salad — balanced by savory goat cheese and sweet, candied walnuts — make great starters. The beef carpaccio with crispy potatoes and manchego cheese is both delicate and fulfilling.

Skaters or guests desiring a simple bite to eat can choose from four gourmet pizzas, and Toscanini even offers a special kids' menu, with everything from a small salad to pizza, pasta, grilled chicken or grilled cheese.

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The entreés stand out: Spinach ravioli dressed with a bright vodka sauce; a generous osso buco topped with a sexy marsala au jus; New York strip with fluffy ricotta gnocchi and wild boar sausage; pan-seared scallops in a truffle butter sauce.

A comprehensive gluten-sensitive menu features flatbread pizzas, antipasti, gluten-free pasta (with such flairs as hand-shucked lobster, shrimp, mussels and pomodoro sauce), and, just like the regular menu, a wide variety of proteins, from Colorado bass to veal scaloppini.

For nearly 20 years, Toscanini has earned the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence for being one of the few, if any, restaurants in the area to offer a wine list consisting 100 percent of Italian wines. The selection includes lush and lavish, rich and round, crisp and clean and dessert varieties.

Cocktails and Sweets

Handcrafted cocktails range from Cosmopolitans and hot toddies to a basil and lemon Hendrick's Smash or Cellos Trio, with house-made lemon, grapefruit and blueberry mint. The sophisticated bar and lounge area provide a wonderful place to relax after a day on the mountain, or before a show at the Vilar Center.

Toscanini's is also a delectable restaurant to enjoy homemade desserts. New this year — in addition to its traditional molten lava cake, tiramisu and homemade sorbets and gelato — come a light and crispy crème brulée and warm, cinnamon and sugar apple fritters you won't forget anytime soon.

In addition to fresh Italian cuisine and friendly service, Toscanini is situated in the perfect locale — parents can dine while kids skate, and couples can enjoy an upscale, intimate dinner in the heart of Beaver Creek's fun and romantic village.

If you go …

What: Toscanini Ristorante, upscale, modern, innovative Italian.

Where: 60 Avondale Lane, Beaver Creek Plaza, Beaver Creek.

Cost: Appetizers $10-$24; entrees $25-$45.

Signature dish: Pettine (scallops in mushroom risotto) and Bistecca (dry-aged New York strip steak).

More information: Call 970-754-5590 or visit http://www.toscaninibeavercreek.com.