Full Belly | VailDaily.com

Full Belly

Laura A. Ball
Bret Hartman/Vail DailyThe crab pot stickers are served with a pepper cream.

What’s in a name?

In the Full Belly’s case, a lot. The restaurant’s moniker is not always received well among those watching their waistlines.

And who can blame them? Anyone that has dined on the beyond-ordinary pub fare knows the edibles are irresistible.

On a recent Wednesday evening, the bar bustled with patrons raising their spirits in holiday cheer and the tables buzzed with hungry folks escaping winter’s chill, everyone there to get a piece of Full Belly.

My date and I were no exception.

Participate in The Longevity Project

The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.

We started out nibbling on the crab pot stickers. Warm, delicious and tasty, the homemade roasted red pepper cream and soy ginger glaze added a spicy sweetness to the meaty appetizer, garnished with a zing of fresh cilantro. Chef Jeff Petruso makes everything in house but the mustard and ketchup.

Perhaps the most refreshing item on the menu is the caprese salad. Basil, olive oil and balsamic reduction top perfectly ripe roma tomatoes and thick slices of fresh mozzarella.

Having whetted our appetites, the chef sent out the yinzer, a generous helping of barbecued pulled pork, apple slaw and crispy fries sandwiched between grilled focaccia.

“If you’re from Pittsburgh, you know what it is,” said Petruso’s partner Chad Cremonese.

“A yinzer is a person from Pittsburgh,” Petruso chimes in. “They say, ‘What are yinz doing tonight,’ instead of, ‘What are you guys doing tonight.”

Petruso and Cremonese, who have known each other since they were in kindergarten, are like brothers. When Cremonese moved to Vail, Petruso followed.

After opening Full Belly last year, their dreams of opening a brew pub started to be realized. Someday, they will brew their own beer, too.

The stuffed chicken is a great choice. The tender meat stacks up with slices of prosciutto and roasted red peppers, sauteed spinach and fresh mozzarella over rich vegetable risotto with pesto oil. The prime rib is another house specialty.

Petruso slow cooks the thick cut so that it melts in your mouth with the bacon mashed potatoes.

If you’re a dessert fan, try the decadent peanut butter chocolate cream pie or the cheesecake with candied pecans and caramel. You won’t regret a calorie.

“No one leaves hungry unless you want to,” Petruso said.

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