Ti Amo: Eagle-Vail’s distinctly Italian experience | VailDaily.com

Ti Amo: Eagle-Vail’s distinctly Italian experience

Shauna Farnell
Vail, CO Colorado
Dominique Taylor/Vail DailyExecutive Chef Fernando Ocampo, left, and manager Paolo Busi prepare to host their first wine dinner at Ti Amo restaurant in Eagle-Vail, Colorado

EAGLE-VAIL, Colorado– Don’t let its location off the beaten path in Eagle-Vail, Colorado throw you. Once you’ve pulled up to a cozy table surrounded by dark wood panels and cherub paintings and are pouring wine out of a bulbous, distinctly Italian carafe, you will entirely forget you’re in an Eagle-Vail strip mall.

And there’s a reason why even in the off season, when so many locals are out of town, every table in Ti Amo is full.

Regulars get an extra hankering for veal in the summertime, and if there were ever a tower of ingredients to melt your tongue with tenderness, it’s the Oscar di Vitello, combining veal, blue crab and asparagus. Chef Fernando Ocampo is a true believer when it comes to texture, and adding an element of crispiness to many dishes creates a zing of melody in each bite, whether it’s a few fresh sprigs of celery on a halibut special or the crispy stick of asparagus hiding out in your linguini.

Before you jump ahead though, give your palate a spicy sponge bath with the Calamari Fritti, which comes with a generous trough of marinara with a kick to soak the crispy squid and fried spinach that hits the tongue like paper.

Bruschetta is not just a staple at Ti Amo, but a virtual exercise in crunchy freshness, particularly the Bruschetta al Prosciutto, which is piled with goat cheese and pine nuts, and climaxes in sweet harmony with a drizzle of honey on top.

Though every incarnation of Ti Amo’s veal falls apart in your mouth with flavor and succulence, another special treat is one of the restaurant’s salmon dishes, (look for the Marco Polo and any daily specials) which feature the famous giant Copper River salmon, only harvested during a brief, precious window in the summer.

As authentic as Italian gets in the Vail Valley, some part of just about every item on Ti Amo’s menu hails from a special region of Italy. The Piedmont wines, for instance, are rich with overtones of berries and rich earth and the selection includes a large handful of Barolos and the exotically rich yet refreshing Ovello Barbaresco.

Anyone who thinks crepes were perfected by the French should simply take in an eyeful of Ti Amo’s Nutella dessert, which is rolled into a log of fluff (full of whipped cream and strawberries) and cooled by a ball of vanilla bean ice cream and more fresh strawberries.

Oh, and if you believe that nothing constitutes digestion like liquid fire, don’t leave without a small glass of Grappa. You’ll feel the pleasant burn from head to toe.

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