Classic Italian casual comes to Edwards |

Classic Italian casual comes to Edwards

Melanie Wong
Edwards CO, Colorado
HL Milano 1 KA 11-26-08

EDWARDS, Colorado ” Having grown up in northern Italy and the heart of France, Rene-Alberta Joly knows about good, quality food.

You can tell when you take a bite of a neatly-pressed, mouth-watering panini at Cafe Milano, Edward’s newest casual dining choice.

Joly had the simple, inviting Italian eateries she was accustomed to in Milan in mind when she opened the cafeteria-style cafe. Don’t be fooled ” you may pick up a plastic tray and your own silverware, but Joly wants her customers to expect great service and sophisticated but accessible food.

Joly, a longtime local and former restaurant consultant who has left her mark on Cordillera’s Mirador and Vail Village’s Crossroads Market, is opening up a place of her own for the first time and serving up “traditional Italian recipes with an American influence” ” classic Italian pastas, delicious paninis and flavorful soups.

“We try to use recipes that have been passed on,” Joly said. “I try to do something healthy and not too filling.”

The restaurant uses mostly organic, all-natural ingredients. Try the vegetable panini, slathered with olive tapenade, and flavored with red peppers, artichoke hearts and just-enough cheese.

Joly recommends the Italian sausage sandwich, a patty on a Kaiser roll, topped with red leaf lettuce, and mozzarella melted on top of banana peppers and spiced up with sun-dried tomato aioli.

The soups are simple, but well-done, and change day to day ” we tried the cream of mushroom soup, which was smoothly pureed, not too thick and perfect for a cold, gray day.

The pastas are traditional Italian fare, ranging from the classic marinara to the farfalle con shrimp, a creamy bow-tie pasta loaded with mini shrimp and vegetables.

The restaurant will eventually offer an organic wine-list, and in the warmer months, diners can sip their glasses on the inviting patio.

The salads are standard, but rife with generous portions of fresh vegetables. Pop in for breakfast, too, and pick up a bakery item and grab a latte.

Then there are the rich desserts ” tiramisu, cakes and cheesecake ” brought in from a local bakery.

The cafe, tucked away at the intersection of Edwards Spur Road and Miller Ranch Road, is meant to be a comfortable, positive, affordable place geared toward locals, Joly said.

The atmosphere is definitely inviting. The colorful mosaic tables and brick walls make for a warm experience, and the staff is friendly and accommodating.

Opening the restaurant has been one of Joly’s dreams ” she has helped other people reinvent or create their own restaurants since 1987″ and a challenge that she hopes will be encouraging to others.

“I’d like to do my own (restaurant) now,” she said. “With the political changes and economic turmoil going on, I want to make this a positive place for people. There are people still in business, and it’s up to us whether we stay as a supportive group. There are dreams out there that people want to still do.”

Staff Writer Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2928 or

What: Cafe Milano

Where: Located in the North Star shopping center at the intersection of Miller Ranch Road and Edwards Spur Road in Edwards.

Open: Off-season hours are 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, serving breakfast and lunch; Regular hours that will include dinner hours soon to come.

Fare: Casual Italian eatery specializing in paninis, pastas and salads

Prices: Paninis from $8, pastas from $9.50

Must try: The paninis

More information: 970-926-4455

Interesting fact: Owner Rene-Alberta Joly helped start the popular French bakery/restaurant chain Le Madeleine.

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