Sunday, April 2, 2023 Apr 2, 2023
73° F Dallas, TX

Wine and Dine with Frasca

By Hayley Hamilton Cogill |

I know we focus on all things Dallas, but over the weekend I had the pleasure of taking a cooler weather get away to Denver, that included an incredible Lyle Lovett concert at Red Rocks, a fun Colorado Rockies game, and an outstanding meal designed by two James Beard Award winners.  Based on the oversold flight out on Friday afternoon, there were many Dallasites with the same idea in mind.

If you find yourself in Denver, then dinner at Frasca, a short drive away in Boulder, is a must.

Why?  Talent and passion, accented with award winning grace from owner and 2008’s James Beard Foundation’s “Best Chef: Southwest,” Food and Wine Magazine’s “Best Chef, 2005,” and recently competing on Bravo’s Top Chef Masters, Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson and owner, 2003’s James Beard Foundation “Outstanding Wine Service” recipient and  “Wine Director of the Year” from San Francisco Magazine, and James Beard 2008 “Outstanding Wine and Spirits Professional” nominee, Master Sommelier Bobby Stuckey. Jump for more.

Frasca is a neighborhood restaurant based on food from the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of northeast Italy, with influences from neighboring Slovenia and Austria.  Italian “Frascas” are traditional, informal gathering places for farmers, friends and family to enjoy rustic meals based on local, local ingredients with regional wine. 

The award winning duo met while working at Thomas Keller’s French Laundry in Napa, where Stuckey won his James Beard award within his first year there.  In 2003 they ventured to Boulder to open Frasca, bringing rustic yet elegant, locally grown, tasty fare paired with a thoughtful, diverse wine list to Colorado.

We had time to stroll prior to our reservation.  Located in the Pearl Street neighborhood of Boulder, we walked through block after block of restaurants, wine bars, shops and galleries filled with locals and visitors enjoying the evening.  In their midst were dozens of artists, musicians and street performers entertaining the crowd with juggling, singing, balloon making and more.  It was a charming scene, especially in a time where handouts are requested on every corner, it was refreshing to see these artists bringing joy to the crowd to make a buck.

On to the food.
We were greeted at the front door by Master Sommelier, Bobby Stuckey and his lovely wife, further emphasizing the family environment, were led to our cozy table for two and given an aperitif with our menus.  The wine list is extensive, but attentively organized by flavor, region and style with a wide array of varietals available, with a smart range of price points from a $21 bottle of Anselmi Friulano from Friuli, Italy to a $5000+ Domaine De La Romanee-Conti.  There are many quality options under $40.  The list has a heavy Italian influence, as you would expect, but also exceptional selections from Spain, France, Austria, and the US, including one of my favorite Willamette Valley, Oregon Pinot Noirs from Domaine Serene.  Our selection.

The menu is designed for four course enjoyment, but each course is also available a la carte.  Our reservation was late so we opted for just two courses.  Mine, a selection of local cheese with Chef prepared red pepper jelly (fantastic) and marinated grapes; followed by wild Atlantic Stripped Bass with mustard greens, tomato and beans.  I know, I know…I love a cheese plate and don’t follow suit for having it at dessert.  Both were beautiful, flavorful and satisfying.

My sweetheart’s choices illustrated the hearty Italian influences: Roasted pork and fennel sausage on creamy Anson Mills polenta with whole grain mustard (a new flavor for us as we hadn’t had mustard on polenta before, it really worked.) Followed by shaved Heritage Foods Berkshire pork leg with potatoes, cherries and mustard.  The pork was incredibly tender, and decadently rich.

Frasca’s focus on local purveyors, creative ingredients, and regional inspiration made the menu, and the meal, superb.  Add in their knowledgeable staff, that successfully creates a relaxed and refined dining experience, and you have a memorable dinner to be celebrated.