Visualize a blooming vegetable garden as if it were a pallet of bright new oil paints, the raw colors waiting to be combined into a masterpiece. As your eyes gaze upon the flora before you, the brilliant green basil, ruby red tomatoes, magenta of fresh beets and the sunshine yellow of the summer squash all come to life.
Hues created by Mother Nature also burst with amazing, unmatched flavor. Mid-summer is when the masterpiece truly begins to come together and our hand-crafted dishes come to life on the canvas.
For Sazza, creating a menu with seasonal produce and using the colors and flavors that Mother Nature intended, composes a portrait of local, sustainable and organically grown food that highlights its natural goodness.
“I think the closer we get in distance and knowledge to our food, the better we get.” explained Chris Barnes, the Creative Director of Culinary for Sazza. “The tastes/flavors/colors/textures speak for themselves and to the high quality of the product. I don’t use a ton of advanced techniques or flashy productions. I simply put flavors together in a unique way that hopefully gets people more involved about where food comes from and why it’s important.”
This year for my birthday in mid-July, I was gifted a place at the banquet table for the Sazza II Menu Tasting, hosted at their original location. Set to open in 2017, the second Sazza location is in the Stanley Marketplace in Aurora, just over the East Denver line. In their new space, Sazza will continue to offer most of its steadfast flavors as well as a smattering of new colors and flavors.
After spending the morning at the farmers market and dedicating some time in the kitchen, crafting their locally-inspired masterpieces, Sazza Co-Owner, Jenni Hayes, and Chris Barnes, who studied at Johnson and Wales, presented the following palate pleasers at the tasting.
Colorado Corn Cakes – made with house-milled corn, infused with local mushrooms, squash and cheese, topped with seasonal slaw, cilantro and salsa.
Lamb Meatball – made with, you guessed it, Colorado lamb, seasoned with fennel and mint, served with a house-made cucumber sauce
House-Made Mozzarella – just as it sounds – Jenni loves making cheese! With some local basil for garnish.
The following house pies were curled into calzones, using more of the house-made mozzarella and some fluffy, puffy, creamy, dreamy house-made ricotta – BBQ, Chicken Parmesan, Broccoli Cheese, and Pepperoni and Sausage. Yum! Local Sweet Ginger Peach Ice Cream – made with local peaches and dairy“The tasting menu was a collective of ideas inspired mainly by Jenni,” Creative Director of Culinary, Chris Barnes, said. “Some were her ideas I actualized and others were her creations from start to finish. As you know the goal to be mostly organic still stands, and we want to further that in certain seasons by being mostly local as well.”
And then, there were locally inspired beverages! Ian, one of Sazza’s managers and a true mixologist, created the following for consumption, Bee’s Knees with Peach Street Distillery’s Jackelope Gin, Seasonal Fruit Smasher with Peach Street Distillery’s Goat Vodka and muddled with Palisade peaches, Colorado Sour with Peach Street Distillery’s Straight Bourbon, and the Thunderstorm with Mile High Spirits Distillery’s Peg Leg Light Rum and ginger beer.
This was not everything on the tasting menu. After all, I can’t give away all the secrets; you’ll have to come taste the new flavors yourself!
Visit the Sazza website and take a walk through the sources of their menu items up close and personal. If you want to know where an ingredient comes from, scan over it on the following link sazzarestaurant.com/ingredients and notice how many are from Colorado, organically or sustainably grown/produced.
Until Sazza’s second location is open and offering their local version of a pizza painting, don’t be afraid to throw some of your own bright colors or garden-fresh produce together for a priceless original.
When you do, come tell us all about it!