Tucked away in a subterranean space below Larimer Square, Frank Bonanno’s new cocktail lounge is literally underground. But unlike the Prohibition-era speakeasies it’s modeled after, Green Russell is otherwise aboveboard. Indeed, given the buzz it generated prior to its opening, you’d be hard-pressed to find a drinker in Denver who doesn’t know about this dark, cozy den, where local masters of mixology tailor their libations to your tastes Thursday through Sunday nights. The friendly crew also gladly serves up a limited but cheeky selection of eats that includes slices from Wednesday’s Pie, the tiny shop that Bonanno has installed as a faux-front for the bar.
From fancy to funky and fusilli to udon, no Denver restaurateur uses his noodle quite like Frank Bonanno, who has made a go of Italian destinations and Asian hangouts alike (see Luca d’Italia and Bones, respectively). Osteria Marco is his savvy nod to the enoteca.
Occupying a dark, glittering, buzzing subterranean cave on Larimer Square, it serves up a deceptively casual menu of salumi, antipasti, panini, and pizzas—all of which are as carefully crafted as Bonanno’s most elaborate $40 entree at Mizuna. While the housemade burrata is a justly ballyhooed must, there’s nary a miss on the menu, be it the whole grilled artichoke or the Sunday special—whole roast suckling pig.
It won’t come as a surprise to fans of Kerouac, Cassady, Ginsberg, and Burroughs that the Beat Poetry Driving Tour isn’t officially instituted; like the mid-century literary movement itself, it’s DIY. But since Denver (along with Boulder) was a temporary or permanent home to many of the Beats’ brightest lights, the city government has created a thoroughly engaging webguide to all the signficant sites in their lives, from parks and baseball diamonds to Larimer Square (Skid Row in Kerouac’s day, it now boasts some of Denver’s best dining and shopping).
Quick tip: save Stop 2, The Colburn Hotel, for the end of your tour so you can wind down with a drink at historic piano bar Charlie Brown’s.