LOCATION: 2227 W 32nd Avenue, Denver, CO 80211
I remember first becoming familiar with Chef Carrie Baird during her time on Top Chef: Colorado. In that season of the show, she was one of the contestants that was actually from Denver, one of the cities featured during the competition. So when there were challenges taking place around the city and local guest judges were brought in, she frequently either knew the person or knew of them.
My friends and I got to the restaurant on the later end of the evening, since that was one of the only OpenTable reservations we had been able to grab when booking it earlier in the day. When our Lyft dropped us off in front of the place, I initially was looking around to see where the restaurant was. As it turns out, Bar Dough doesn’t have any visible signs on the building itself, just the restaurant logo on their front door.
It seemed like a relatively casual atmosphere in the outdoor dining patio in the front of the restaurant, where there were a good number of people seated. But the moment you step inside, you immediately get a chic vibe from the place. The bar top was made from smoke gray granite that blended in really nicely with the rest of the restaurant’s décor. The high tops that we got seated at were made from either quartz or some other type of polished stone. But even though the atmosphere inside might have felt a bit refined, I didn’t feel out of place at all dressed in a polo and jeans.
The menu featured Italian food, with a spread ranging across antipasti (appetizers), insalata (salads), pastas, pizzas, and secondi (meats). With me still trying to avoid cow’s milk dairy, that made navigating the menu just a little bit tougher. But in the end, we were still able to share a good selection of appetizers and I opted in for a pasta dish.
We had two members of the waitstaff come by to help us: Issac and Peter. We asked a few questions about the appetizers, and it was thanks to their recommendations that we went with the 7X Ranch Meatballs and the Zucchini Fritters. Both dishes had great presentation and tasted fantastic as well. But I think my vote for favorite appetizer went to the meatballs.
The blend of chuck, pork belly, and pancetta was absolutely full of flavor, and when balanced out with the acidity of the crushed tomato sauce, it made for bites that had you going back in for more. Sadly, there were only three meatballs with the order, and not seven like we had originally thought with the title of the dish. Peter pointed out that it was actually the name of the ranch their meat came from, and that we were not the only diners that had jumped to that conclusion as well.
I have to say, when the pizzas got put down on the table, I really wished that I could partake in the cow’s milk dairy. The Il Grande pizza looked phenomenal and came highly recommended from our waiters as well. Smoked mozzarella base mixed with a pistachio pesto, topped with charred kale, prosciutto cotto, spicy greens, and shredded pecorino cheese. Just looking at it made my mouth water. I told my friend Andrew to have a slice on my behalf, and he happily obliged.
Visually, my Capellini pasta dish had a bit of that refined plating element to it. The capellini was rolled neatly in the middle of the plate, and had been tossed with crab meat, pancetta, smoked tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, and seasoned with oregano. The nice touch was also including two crab claws arranged on the side of the pasta, with the claw meat still intact. I really enjoyed the mixture of the savory and smoky flavor profiles with the ingredients, and the pasta was cooked al dente. What was nice about the dish was that the portion didn’t feel too heavy either.
Cross another Top Chef contestant’s restaurant off my list of places to visit. I looked around periodically during our meal to see if Chef Carrie was working that night, but it didn’t look like it. From an atmosphere standpoint, I give a lot of credit for pulling off the modern vibe but still feeling a bit laid back at the same time. Just from all the things that we ordered for our meal, everything was rich in flavor and also showcased the variety of options to choose from. Even if the restaurant looks pretty low key from the outside, don’t pass up an opportunity to stop in and get some fantastic Italian fare.
Let’s now take a look at the Bar Dough Dish Spotlight. Asterisks (*) below mark my recommended dishes.
And finally, here are my rankings for Bar Dough:
Food: 5 / 5
Presentation of the dishes were spot-on, and really made you eager to jump in for the first bite. The flavor profiles were very well balanced, and the variety of options will help you find something you’re in the mood for.
Atmosphere: 4.75 / 5
The modern aesthetic coupled with a relaxed atmosphere helps to provide a nice option for a chill evening out or to unwind after work. The granite bar seating was a really nice touch, coupled with the back-lit shelf for where they stored the liquor.
Service: 4.5 / 5
Our waiters, Issac and Peter, did a good job to welcome us into the restaurant and help answer some of the questions that we had on the menu. All of their recommendations ended up being some of our favorite dishes of the night. The food also came out really timely from the open kitchen in the back.
Price: 5 / 5
For the quality of the ingredients used, coupled with the fact that the restaurant is right in the middle of the city, I thought the pricing of the food on the menu was very reasonable. It’s definitely a price I would gladly pay again.