Marco Monnanni & His Marvelous Mozzarella

North Boulder’s Bacco features Italian fare

Some years ago, fans of things Italian had a trio of atmospherically similar Boulder area restaurants to visit. Antica Roma, Pane e Vino and Acqua Pazza were under the same ownership, including chef and partner Marco Monnanni. I can’t recall what happened, but of the three, Antica Roma across from the Boulder County Courthouse is the only one that remains — and under different ownership. At this point, all that matters is Monnanni is at the helm of a North Boulder restaurant that he operates with a different trio of partner/owners, manager Jason Copeland and partners Leslie Young, Tom Leovic and Melissa McKay.

The sign over the door reads Bacco Ristorante, but that’s only because the full name, Bacco Trattoria & Mozzarella Bar, wouldn’t fit across the available space. Inside is a very different-looking place from Monnanni’s previous local restaurants. Instead of the soft, warm hues of Tuscany Bacco is contemporary — high ceiling, clean lines, lots of exposed pipes and ducts and metal-shaded drop lights. Still, the traditional fare of Italy works fine. The west-facing restaurant is set back sufficiently from Broadway to provide generous terrace space without too much noise or too many fumes.

High ceilings with exposed pipes and ductwor and pumpkin walls with brown accents create a warm, welcoming ambiance without being faux Tuscan.
Red wines are found behind the bar. White wines are in a glass-fronted wine fridge.


Mozzarella & More

Rewind to 1988, when I moved to Boulder. Instead of the fresh mozzarella made every day in Italian delis all over the New York area, Colorado seemed to offer only that rubbery, salty Polly-O stuff in industrial-strength plastic found in supermarket dairy cases.  Fresh mozzarella was one of the three foods that I missed (good Chinese food and good breads being the others). There might have been better  mozz’ in Northwest Denver’s Italian enclave, but I had a young child and no time to go roaming around looking for Italian delis, and there was no Googling “mozzarella, Denver, Italian deli.” Over the years, the mozzarella scene brightened, and now Boulder has a restaurant with “Mozzarella” as its middle name. Salumi and pizza are other offerings.

My huband and I went there for happy hour the other evening. The menu selection was sizable, the dishes that we tried were all excellent (especially anything with that wonderful fresh mozzarella) and the prices very affordable.

A basket of fine bread -- surely from one of the metro area's top bread bakeries -- with herbed olive oil for dipping.
Two thick pieces of Fior di Latte mozzarella with golden beets, extra virgin olive oil, basil and mixed greens.
Just five Msanila clams in an aromatic both of garlic, tomatoes, and basil ibroth with an herb-garlic crostini.
Pepperoni pizza, big enough for two to share -- or for half to take home.
One scoop of Mexican ice cream and one of roasted banana gelato -- and two spoons.

Price check: At happy hour (3 to 6 p.m. nightly and all day Monday), Small plates, $3, $4 and $5; pizza, $6 and $7 (plus $9 gluten-free); desserts, $5-$8; cheese, $5 each type. Drink specials too.

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5 thoughts on “Marco Monnanni & His Marvelous Mozzarella”

  1. We’ve been to Bacco many times and always enjoy the mozzarella, but also the many wonderful vegetables the chef prepares. It’s a surprisingly great restaurant for vegetarians. Thanks for this lovely post!

  2. On December 7, I recieved the following E-mail from a reader: “HI I would like to let you know then Chef Marco Monnanni from Bacco trattoria mozzarella bar in Boulder is opening another location in Lousville co at 1132 west dillon road in January,the restaurant name is Parma Trattoria Mozzarella bar,the restaurant will feature all different cheeses and meats from Italy plus a beautifull marble mozzarella bar then will seat about 12 people,also the restaurant will seat about 120 people plus a patio dining for about 50 people,His partner Emilio Perna Ruggiero is familiar with the Louisville area,just be the general manager of Pane e Vino restaurant about 7 years ago.”

    I appreciate the news and look forward to trying it.

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