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Aspen: Ellina


D19 was one of the most exciting restaurants I found in Aspen. There's plenty of good food in this town, but not so much that's original. Sushi, Bistros, New American, even the dives all seem to have indistinct menus full of food that's good, but similar to the rest. For the last two years, it was my go to spot for food that was actually interesting to me. It was a place for Italian food that wasn't just like everything else.

So, I was disappointed to hear that D19 had closed, but relieved to find that the chef, Dena Marino had a new place, Ellina, just around the corner.


I had to have the octopus. It's one of her best dishes. It's basically the same as it was at D19, but now it's served on top of a crisped disc of risotto. The rice offers a great medium for the delicious sauce as well as an unctuous counterpoint to the distinct texture of the octopus.


Over two visits, I tried out some of the pasta as well. The ricotta ravioli topped with duck confit, above, paired soft pillows of cheese with the crispy, almost bacon-like duck. The rigatoni bolognese was hearty and made for exactly the right first meal after arriving in Aspen.


My only complaint about Ellina was the price point. Very little is cheap in Aspen. I know that. But the apps start around $14 and barely any of the entrees are under $28. That's pretty steep. Like many other of the restaurants in town, I had to limit my tastings to samplings from the earlier courses.


The new location is nice, but being downstairs on the pedestrian mall doesn't get you as much foot traffic, so it's not filling up the way D19 used to. It has only been just over a month since they opened, so hopefully they'll develop the following they deserve.

430 East Hyman Avenue, Aspen, CO‎

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