Frank Bonanno

Chef, Restaurateur

Denver

After graduating from University of Denver with a degree in finance, Frank Bonanno decided to revisit that passion for food he developed while cooking with his mom as a kid. He earned his second degree at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York to cement his love for gastronomy. Now, Bonanno has his own culinary empire in Denver, with 10 restaurants and bars scattered throughout the city. He opened his first Denver restaurant, Mizuna, in 2001, with the others to quickly follow. His eateries run the gamut, ranging from fine dining and tasting menus at Luca D’Italia and Mizuna to casual eats at Bonanno Brothers Pizzeria and Lou’s Food Bar. The New Jersey native has also published two cookbooks (Mizuna: French-Inspired Contemporary American Cuisine and The Luca D’Italia Cookbook ibook).

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  • On November 1, 2013
    Frank Bonanno answered the question: Frank Bonanno

    What are the best museums in Denver?

    The Denver Museum of Nature & Science, for sure, is awesome. That would probably be No. 1 and that’s because of the kids — they love it — and I think they do a great job there. The Denver Art Museum is spectacular. They get some really good shows that come through. The Clyfford Still Museum is really cool. It’s small, easy to get around — you’re not spending the whole day in a museum, which sometimes can get trying with kids. And obviously we’ve outgrown it, but the Children’s Museum of Denver was really cool when my kids were little. You could spend a day there for sure. But I think every city has the same kind of children’s museum.
  • On November 1, 2013
    Frank Bonanno answered the question: Frank Bonanno

    What are the best restaurants in Denver?

    I like New Saigon a lot. My sons love the Dungeness crab — all slick with garlic and onion. It’s just a fun experience there to over order, dig in with chopsticks, drink those gelatin bubble drinks and go home completely satiated. I like ChoLon [Modern Asian Bistro]. It’s innovative food in a beautiful setting. I like Cherry Creek Grill — I know I shouldn’t say that because it’s a chain (it’s the Hillstone Restaurant Group), but they do a great job. We go there because I know what I’m going to get there — the lighting is perfect, the food is consistent, it’s comfortable. I love the French dip. Our family used to go about once a month, but since they took the fish sandwich off the menu, it’s more like every six months or so. And I like Sushi Den. I think it’s some of the best sushi in the country. Sushi Den has the best fish I’ve ever had — cooked, raw, New York, San Francisco, whatever — period.
  • On November 1, 2013
    Frank Bonanno answered the question: Frank Bonanno

    What are the best places for brunch in Denver?

    [My family] loves brunch. For some reason everyone in Denver loves brunch. I don’t ever remember growing up in New Jersey and doing brunch. It was more about going to the deli and getting a sandwich at 11 a.m. than it was going out for eggs. Maybe it was because there were so many diners, which we don’t have here, and you’d go to a diner at 11 p.m. So maybe it was you were eating your eggs later in the day and sandwiches earlier in the day.

    But one of my favorite places for brunch is Sassafras [American Eatery]. I think they do a great job. It’s new and cute, in an old restored bungalow house. I shouldn’t say this, but I get the chicken fried steak or two eggs over-easy with hash browns. I’m going to have to pick one of my own — we go to Lou’s Food Bar. It’s probably the No. 1 place we go to for brunch. I know I own it, but I still love it. I had never had chicken and biscuits until a few months ago, and we have one on the menu. The chef said, “You should try it.” And I was like, “No, it’s fried, it’s heavy.” He sent it out to me and I’ve had it like six times since. Chicken, biscuits and gravy — who knew that fried chicken, a biscuit and sausage gravy could be so good?
  • On November 1, 2013
    Frank Bonanno answered the question: Frank Bonanno

    What are the best hotels in Denver?

    I like the JW Marriott [Denver] Cherry Creek because they pamper you there. [Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star] Four Seasons [Hotel Denver] is spectacular. I actually stayed there for my birthday this year. Four Seasons has the most impeccable service and the most knowledgeable concierge ever — plus it’s in the very heart of Denver. There’s really no need to even take a cab anywhere from the Four Seasons. Hotel Teatro is a very nice hotel. Those are the nicest hotels in Denver. Hotel Teatro and Hotel Monaco Denver are nice boutique-y hotels. They’re more intimate, maybe a little less fussy and a bit more comfortable. I have to say, though, I like to be pampered in a hotel. I cut a lot of corners when I travel, but where I stay isn’t really one of them.
  • On November 1, 2013
    Frank Bonanno answered the question: Frank Bonanno

    What is there to see in Denver?

    A [Colorado] Rockies game is always fun in the summer. The Denver Botanic Gardens are spectacular. And I think our zoo is really good.

    The Cherry Creek Trail is something fun to do. To just bike that path is amazing because you’re getting exercise, it’s beautiful in Colorado and you can bike for 50, 60, 70 miles on it [with adjoining trails]. You can ride from Denver to Boulder [via the Cherry Creek Bike Path and other trails].

    I think it’s great to go to Larimer Square — and not just because I have a restaurant there. That’s a gorgeous block when it’s all lit up in the winter. There are so many dining and shopping options. It’s just a great little block in a beautiful city.