Dining at Always-Awesome Arugula

North Boulder restaurant tops for fresh wholesome Italian fare & good service.

001If Arugula Bar e Ristorante were within walking distance of home, I’m sure I’d stroll over more often, at least for happy hour. Since it isn’t, it becomes more of a “special” occasion dining choice, yesterday’s occasion being a long-overdue dinner with a friend. We were seated at a booth in the back corner, where we’ve sat before and liked the spacious comfort and quiet even on a Saturday evening. Our waiter was knowledgeable and easily attentive but not aggressively so. We liked that as we pored over the wine list, contemplated the menus for dinner dinner and dessert, and lingered over conversation. Ever since he opened the restaurant, owner/chef Alec Schuler has been fanatical about natural ingredients, local sourcing and meticulous preparation. (I don’t know why WordPress insists on adding a line through the restaurant name on this post. I’m annoyed and apologetic.)

Robust slices of excellent crusty bread with young olive oil to dip it in.
Robust slices of excellent crusty bread with young olive oil to dip it in.
Shaved Fennel Salad dressed with extra virgin olive oil and lemon over orange segments, Grana Padano cheese arugula and pine nuts.
Shaved Fennel Salad dressed with extra virgin olive oil and lemon over orange segments, Grana Padano cheese arugula and pine nuts. Sorry it’s a little fuzzy.
Arugula House Salad with a firm slice of ricotta salata, small radish slices and tiny sugar snap peas in their pods. Again, olive oil and lemon dress the salad.
Arugula House Salad with a firm slice of ricotta salata, small radish slices and tiny sugar snap peas in their pods. Again, olive oil and lemon dress the salad.
Arugula makes its crab cakes with finely chopped shrimp rather than breadcrumbs as a binder, so this appetizer duo of cakes was rich enough to be a main course. Saffron garlic aioli and a small salad of butter lettuce and cucumber provided contrasting colors and textures.
Arugula makes its crab cakes with finely chopped shrimp and carrots rather than breadcrumbs as a binder, so this appetizer duo of cakes was rich enough to be a main course. Saffron garlic aioli and a small salad of butter lettuce and cucumber provided contrasting colors and textures.
House-made gnocchi with long-cooked beef shank didn't photograph all the well, but it was rich and flavorful.
House-made gnocchi with long-cooked beef shank didn’t photograph all the well, but it was rich and flavorful.
Tiramisu with fresh berries and a squiggle of dark chocolate is portioned to share.
Tiramisu with fresh strawberries and a squiggle of dark chocolate is portioned to share.

Price check: At dinner, salads, $6-$11; antipasti, $4-$13 plus $24 for a platter; secondi (main course), $19-$32; pasta, gnocchi and risotto, $17-$32; contori (sides), $7-$7; desserts, $6-$10. Note: Arugula is one of the Boulder restaurants participating in upcoming Denver Restaurant Week, the first-ever summer edition (August 23-29). Click here for the extremely flexible menu with three courses for $30.

Arugula Bar & Ristorante on Urbanspoon

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