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Little Nepal's co-founder opens Shri Ganesh; Duca's expands into Antlers 

Side Dish

Nepali newbie

Raj Adhikari should be a familiar face and name, as he's been a co-owner and active GM for both Little Nepal locations for many years now. And though he'll retain an ownership stake in that business, he and his wife Sonu recently opened their own eatery, Shri Ganesh (11550 Ridgeline Drive, #128, shriganeshco.com).

The sizable location formerly hosted Rosie's Diner, Diggy's Diner and Bunz Bakery & Burger Bar; including the patio, it can seat upwards of 275 people, he says. Given the space, in addition to daily food service, he aims to soon host cooking classes, weekly belly dancing displays, and Indian and Nepali holiday celebrations.

In relation to Little Nepal's offerings, Adhikari says Shri Ganesh's menu is certainly a similar concept, broad with traditional fare from tandoori plates and curries to biryanis, vindaloos and more. Daily, $9.99 lunch buffets will be the best chance for sampling widely, as will $17.99 Thursday and Sunday night dinner buffets, which will feature lamb, goat and seafood plates.

But Adhikari also says he's going a bit more "upscale" at Shri Ganesh, while introducing some lesser-seen (if not altogether absent) plates to our marketplace. As an example he cites idli with sambhar — the first is a rice cake made partly with fermented black lentils; sambhar is a yellow lentil-based purée stocked with beans, okra, carrots, tomatoes, onions and eggplant. Next comes the pav bhaji, popular on the streets of Mumbai, which he describes as a "very flavorful" mix of seasoned mashed potatoes, peas and other veggies, served with warmed bread rolls and citrus garnish.

At dessert, the ras malai, a Bengali dish, consists of cardamom cream-soaked chhena (cottage cheese), essentially a crust-less version of cheesecake. Rasgulla turns chhena and wheat dough into dumplings that are then cooked in syrup. And balushahi are similar to American glazed doughnuts.

Pizza Pi

Duca's Neapolitan Pizza (ducaspizza.com) will soon open its third location, expanding from Voyager Parkway and Cheyenne Mountain Boulevard. The newest location: inside the Antlers Hotel (4 S. Cascade Ave.), not so long ago acquired by the Mining Exchange's ambitious owner, attorney Perry Sanders, and his partner John Goede.

Sanders says to expect an opening in the space that was formerly Judge Baldwin's around late October, and when asked why he didn't opt for his own venture, he says, "We were going to try and do a similar pizza concept, but after eating at theirs a few times, we decided we'd do better teaming up with them, since the product is authentic and just fabulous in our opinion." He adds that he aims to help Duca's expand its brand into future locations as well.

Duca's co-owner Joe Duca says he didn't set out to expand so quickly after only four years in business, but "we've been getting a lot of opportunities." He says the group's not yet certain if it'll franchise out-of-state or just maintain corporate locations.

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