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Side dish: More than sausage and meatballs 

Italy revisited

The former Antonio's Italian Restaurant space at 4475 Northpark Drive, most recently a Broadway Deli, will see new life breathed into it when La Bella Vita Ristorante Italiano (260-4730) opens July 30.

Owners and longtime friends Tiziano Cestari and Giuliano Casulli grew up in Italy and carry decades of restaurant experience into the venture. Casulli, hailing from Southern Italy and stepping into the executive chef role, has owned a successful Italian eatery in Arlington, Texas, for nearly 30 years. Cestari, hailing from the Florence area and playing GM here, entered restaurants at age 9, later attending culinary school and working in England, Holland, Italy and fine dining spots in Texas.

Cestari says the from-scratch menu, which includes homemade fresh pastas, combines both Northern and Southern Italian cuisines. Past daily fresh fish and pasta specials, look for signature dishes like a Tuscan-style beef sirloin steak and jumbo crab-topped beef tenderloin in brandy cream sauce. Homemade desserts include panna cotta, cannoli, profiteroles, crème brûlée varieties and tiramisu.

With entrées between $8 and $15 at lunch and $12 and $32 (with included soup and salad) at dinner, Cestari says, "Our goal is to be casual fine dining ... We want to show Colorado Springs that Italian cuisine isn't all about sausage and meatballs."

Barrel-age it

Former Trinidad Brewing Company and BierWerks brewers Jeff Aragon and Brian Horton have contracted as independent consultants with partner Dave Hudson on Paradox Beer Company (106 E. Village Terrace #100, Woodland Park, 686-8081), a barrel-aged, bottle-conditioned brew endeavor that by late August will produce 750-milliliter bottles in the $8 to $12 range.

Paradox is contracting with Pikes Peak Brewing Company; the latter is providing the base wort (the sugar-containing liquid drawn from the grain mash process) for the "fermentation project." Paradox will then ferment the wort in special square vessels, making a variety of beers from the same base liquid. They'll include an American pale ale and two amber-Saison versions aged in Chardonnay barrels.

Aragon says he and Horton have been playing with barrel aging since their time at Trinidad, when they used Stranahan's Whiskey barrels. He says there's nothing unique with the process, that most breweries have a small side project going, and bigger names like Jolly Pumpkin have become renowned for their woodwork.

But one unique angle with Paradox is its location: around 4,000 square basement feet of the former Tweeds furniture store. Look for a small, winery-esque retail and tasting room in the near future, and possibly a taproom later, as well as a perk-promising membership club.

  • Also: Paradox Beer adds barrels to the process.

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