Saturday, January 29, 2011

Aria Opens in Cherry Creek

Chef Michael Long has lived atop the south metro food chain for quite some time.  Being one of the most celebrated fine dining spots in Littleton, Opus Restaurant has made quite a name for itself and it's officially time for the 2nd overture. Not only is this an encore- but Long is bringing out the big guns to tap into what might be one of the most restaurant-saturated markets of Denver. And he also opted for (though I'm not superstitious) what some may consider a cursed location that hasn't survived as a single stand-alone entity for as long as I can remember. Bold move.

Welcome to Aria- an expression of Long's creative, comfortable cuisine, yet offered in a more casual manner. As you walk in, you'll be welcomed into a warm atmosphere with Tuscan-style accents. The bar is more prominent than Opus', yet flows with the dining room with modern overhead lighting.

As we joined them for their grand opening- we got a taste of what this place could truly be on a busy night. With some lounge seating around the bar, and a giant U-shape marble top that could accommodate around 20 folks, we found ourselves carefully navigating through the sea of bustling guests enjoying some of Long's cuisine. The bar top was constantly flowing with small plates. Though not exactly finger-food, each dish was an indication Long's creativity, and European-fusion style.

The night started with a Mozzarella-Stuffed Lamb Meatball in a rich muir glen fire-roasted tomato sauce.

Sesame-style seared tuna, with pickled cabbage and chili sauce

Roasted Beet Salad with Herbs and Beet Puree- an earthy, sweet dish with a nice complement of textures in a delicate presentation.

Round 2 of individual creme brulee with blackberry- The first set was served on asian-style china spoons.

Chocolate chip egg rolls in a warm anglaise sauce
 On top of it- the beer flowed like wine (or vice versa) and the night was well-executed with attentive service. Though this was just a taste of what Aria has to offer- the takeaway is obvious: Chef Long is going to make a dent in the Cherry Creek dining scene. The cuisine speaks for itself, and of course you get the full package with this team of experienced restaurateurs. Dish It Up!

Located Between 2nd and 3rd on Josephine
Avg Entree $30
Gluten-free menu is available
Open daily
Parking available in back

Aria on Urbanspoon

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