Tag Archives: Italian restaurant in Boulder

New Owners Taking Over Boulder’s Alba

Farewell to the Steins and hail to the Deerings

Alba-logoOnce a month, Alba Restaurant and Wine Bar owner Rick Stein sends an E-mail called “Postcards from Alba” with news bits and menu notes from this lovely restaurant that is a neighbor of McGuckin’s but, with its lovely patio for summer and warm dining room for winter, feels light-years away. The latest Postcard caught me by surprise because it contained just one item — but it was the big news of a transition to new ownership from one couple to another. Given that both pairs are veteran restaurateurs, I expect that it will be seamless.

“This will be our last Postcards from Alba, as new owners will be taking over the restaurant on Monday, August 19.  This Friday and Saturday will be Susan’s and my last nights at Alba, and we’d love to have you join us on our final weekend.

“We’ve enjoyed more than twenty great years in the restaurant business in Boulder, all made possible by our legion of great customers.  We can’t express how much we appreciate your friendship, loyalty, and support.

“The new owners of Alba are Jon and Eleni Deering.  They have lived in Boulder for several years, and both have considerable restaurant experience.

“Jon grew up in California, and his first restaurant job in Boulder was with the catering department at Chautauqua Dining Hall.  He later managed the Sunflower Restaurant on Pearl Street and helped open and managed the Uptown Wine Shop at Restaurant 4580 in north Boulder.  His next position was wine and beverage manager at Colterra in Niwot, and subsequently became beverage director at Salt.  His last position before pursuing his dream of owning his own restaurant was front of the house leader at Black Cat.

“Eleni was born in Greece and grew up in the restaurant business.  Her family moved to the U.S. and operated restaurants in the San Francisco Bay area.

“The Deerings will operate the restaurant as Alba until mid-October, when they’ll change the name and modify the concept slightly.  They have not yet announced the new name.  The concept will encompass the cuisine of not just Italy, but also many other countries in the Mediterranean region.  We wish them great success and hope you’ll continue your support.”

This Postcard did not indicate what the Steins’ plans are, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they end up spending more time in Piemonte, the region of northern Italy they adore. After all, they named their restaurant after a Piemontese city. I wish them well.

A Window Table on a Snow Night

Boulder’s Trattoria on Pearl is a warm, cozy haven on a snowy night

P1020242I know it’s not winter. It’s the second half of April, but the last few days have felt and looked like winter — freezing nights, cool days and nearly 72 hours of snowfall. Perfect!  Last evening brought large, feather light flakes with no wind and temperatures in the 20s. The Trattoria on Pearl’s snow day special with 20 percent all menu items (except happy hour) enticed my husband and me to stroll down to the east end of Pearl Steet.

The winter view from our window table.
The winter view from our window table.

It was still happy hour when we reached the restaurant, so we ordered from that ultra-affordable menu insread. We took a table by the window and watched the snowflakes that fell from the clouds and the people who walked by. Owners Guillermo and Sara Cassarubias run a warm, welcoming restaurant, and a snow night — probably the last of the winter — is a fine way to experience it.

Sara Cassarubias, who owns the Trattoria with her husband Guillermo, bakes the bread and makes the desserts.
Sara Cassarubias, who owns the Trattoria with her husband Guillermo, bakes the bread and makes the desserts.
Fried apple-sweet potato gnocchi and Parmesan fries flanking the honey-mustard aioli for dipping.
Fried apple-sweet potato gnocchi and Parmesan fries flanking the honey-mustard aioli for dipping..
The happy hour pizza are enormous -- easily big enough to share. This one is the Hawaiiana, an un-Italian combo of ham, pineapple, salami, mozzarella and marinara sauce on a thin, crispy crust.
The happy hour pizza are enormous — easily big enough to share. This one is the Hawaiiana, an un-Italian combo of ham, pineapple, salami, mozzarella and marinara sauce on a thin, crispy crust.
Fresh salad -- they called it green, but its greens-plus.
Fresh salad — they called it green, but it’s greens-plus.
Panna cotta and raspberry coulis with whipped cream and a fresh raspberry.
Panna cotta and raspberry coulis with whipped cream and a fresh raspberry.

Trattoria on Pearl on Urbanspoon

Trattoria (Lunch) on Pearl

Art errand calls for light lunch in the shade

The West has experienced — many would say endured or even survived — a beastly hot and dry summer. My husband I are going to a niece’s wedding in California in a couple of weeks, and I made if my mission to find a very special gift at the 2012 Open Arts Fest in downtown Boulder. After two roundtrips up and down the show, paying special attention to potters’ and glassmakers’ booths, we made a selection. That produed inevitable hunger.sp we stopped at Trattoria on Pearl. The shade from the building and the umbrellas was pleasant, as we opted for a light lunch   — just sandwiches, one with fries, one on grilled focaccia with a salad — and a cold drink. And yes, their house-made bread with herbed olive oil goes with everything, even sandwiches!

 

Trattoria on Pearl on Urbanspoon

Happy Hour at Alba

Tuscan restaurant in Boulder offers nightly happy hour with good food at good prices

Yesterday evening was rainy and a bit chilly, just the sort of evening that called for either hunkering down at home or going out someplace warm and welcoming. My husband, Ral, and I increasingly enjoy early-evening happy hours take  a light bite out of the budget and don’t leave us overstuffed. We hadn’t happy houred for a while, so that’s what we decided to do.

When it comes to being warm and welcoming, Alba Restaurant & Wine Bar fills the bill on all counts.  The restaurant is tasteful and pretty, inspired by the owners’ frequent travels to Tuscany. A divider separates the bar from the dining room. Even when almost all tables are filled, there’s a pleasant buzz rather than a din, and that scores big points. I feel compelled to point out that while Alba is a warm, welcoming cocoon in winter, its spacious patio is one of Boulder’s best spots once outdoor dining season is back.

But back to what we wanted on a chilly December evening: Pleasing ambiance? Check. Good food? Check. Very afforadable  happy hour pricing? Available Friday evening? Check. One thing I also really like about Alba is that owners Rick and Susan Stein are almost always there, which means they are paying attention. It might also be the reason that the waitstaff asks over and over how we were liking everything.  One wine, one beer, one salad, one order of arancini and one pizza to share and we were asked six times how the food tasted. Overkill of concern.Basta!  

 I ordered a glass of  Canaletto Montepulciano d’Abruozzo 2007 from the town of Montepulciano in southern Tuscany and my husband had a bottle of Moretti La Rossa, a big-foam, dark Italian beer (bottle shown below with bread). The “wine bar” part of the name means that even a happy hour-priced wine is good.

Good bread with herbed ricotta in olive oil is even served at happy hour -- and even with a pizza order.
The simple presentation arancini, crisp-fired orbs of risotto with smoked mozzarella, don't hint at how good they really taste.
Lightly dressed green salad with crisp-fried onions, a perfect counterpoint to arancini and pizza.
Pzza Margherita made with San Marzano tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and strips of fresh basil.

 Price check: At happy hour (nightly except Sunday until 6:30 p.m.), beer, $3; wines and apperitivi, $4; mixed drinks, $5; small bites, $4; pizza, $9.

Alba on Urbanspoon