Simple Italian fare, affordable prices in Eagle
Vail CO, Colorado
Editor’s note: High Life publishes restaurant features, not straight reviews. We can’t guarantee you’ll have the same experience we did.
EAGLE ” Comfort is a steaming bowl of spaghetti carbonara. Thick hunks of pancetta dot the glistening, peppery pasta, but there’s no cream in the authentic Italian version at Angelino, the new Italian restaurant in Eagle Ranch. Rather, a single egg yolk, tossed with hot pasta right before serving gives the sauce a rich base.
Zak Stone, the owner of French Press in Edwards, opened the restaurant in mid-January with partner Juan Anon, the executive chef at French Press and now Angelino. The restaurant took over La Scala’s old spot on the corner of Founders Corner and Capitol Street, across from Capitol Theater. Even though the restaurant has been open since mid January, people packed the waiting area, bar and every table in the house on Thursday night. The number of customers has “exceeded expectations,” Anon said.
“Actually we have had a few people mention that we’re going to be the Sweet Basil of Eagle; we’re the local hangout,” Anon said. “Really, we have a crowd already … it really was a very fast training for everybody, but we’re putting a lot of time trying to make everything constant. It’s a challenge.”
The eatery’s space doesn’t look much different than it did when it was La Scala. The big changes took place in the kitchen, away from the public’s eye, Stone said, but there’s new black wood floors in the dining room, the red paint on the back wall has been toned down and two of the four pillars that used to be in the middle of the room were removed to open up the space.
While the space hasn’t changed dramatically, the menu, of course, is completely new. Seven years ago, before Stone opened the French Press in Edwards, he wanted to open a Northern Italian restaurant, he said.
“At that time there was Zino’s, Marko’s, Alpinista so it became a French bistro, instead. (An Italian restaurant) has always been on my mind though. It hits a wide palate, everyone from a kid to a discerning diner will be happy,” Stone said.
Rather than straight northern Italian, Angelino is “broad-spectrum Italian,” Stone said, combining dishes from all over Europe’s boot. Anon, a Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef, started cooking Italian food when he was 10 years old at his family’s restaurant in Argentina. Opening an Italian restaurant in Eagle was an easy choice, he said. For starters, there isn’t another Italian restaurant in Eagle and “Italian food appeals to 90 percent of the people in the world,” he said.
The menu covers the basics, Anon said. On the appetizer side of things, there’s beef carpaccio with arugula, asiago, capers and lemon vinaigrette ($10), bruschetta with three toppings ($6) and a light, crispy calamari fritti with arrabiata sauce ($7).
Entrees range from a classic Margherita pizza ($9) to cappellini pomodoro e basilico ” angel hair pasta with diced roma tomatoes, fresh basil, garlic and olive oil ($10) and other Italian classics like lasagna, cannelloni, veal scallopini and chicken saltimbocca. The most expensive thing on the menu is the tenderloin, which is $24 and comes with polenta, eggplant escabeche and a rich, meaty barolo pan sauce.
Even though there are a few intricate, interesting dishes on the menu, like the spinach and ricotta ravioli with cherry tomatoes, pine nuts and cilantro cream sauce, it’s the simple dishes that Stone is most proud of, he said.
“The cappellini pomodoro and the carbonara, some of the basics, I think Juan and the other guys in the kitchen execute them so well, even at the most basic level ” that’s what I find myself ordering over and over again,” Stone said.
With entrees starting at $10 and both a red and a white wine on the menu for $4.75 a glass, the price point of the restaurant is significantly lower than French Press, but its working so well at Angelino, Stone is considering changing the menu and lowering the prices at his Edwards eatery, he said.
“We’re really hitting that $10 to $14 mark (at Angelino). I was talking to Juan before we opened and I said, ‘can we do it at those prices?’ People are able to dine more frequently and it works; it works nicely.”
High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 748-2984.
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