Mustachios offers traditional Italian fare in rustic setting | SkyHiNews.com

Mustachios offers traditional Italian fare in rustic setting

As 2016 draws to a close we are all looking towards the New Year.

Here at the Sky-Hi News we will be adding a few, new recurring columns for our readers to enjoy. One new project we will undertake this year is restaurant reviews. These reviews will be conducted periodically throughout the year and then condensed into a local restaurant guide to coincide with our summer Explore Grand magazine. We hope you find our reviews helpful. First up on the plate, Mustachios on the Lake.

ATMOSPHERE

I have to confess, since moving to Grand County I have always meant to stop in to Mustachios for dinner but had not gotten around to it until last week. As a man sporting more than minor facial hair I'm naturally inclined to enjoy any establishment called Mustachios; their business signage, which features a large handlebar mustache beneath a prominent nose and brimmed hat, is great as is their name, who forgets a name like Mustachios.

The atmosphere in Mustachios is what you would expect when looking at the building from the outside: upscale, quant, yet unpretentious. From inside the main doors you will descend down a short flight of stairs and pass the bar area before entering the dining hall. The half-basement positioning of the restaurant gives Mustachios a secluded, almost tavern like feel that is heightened by the warm wood ceilings and rustic décor.

My dinner at Mustachios was just a few days before Christmas and large portions of the facility was covered in Christmas lights and other holiday decorations. Unfortunately because it was both evening and winter we did not get to enjoy Mustachio's patio area, which overlooks Granby Reservoir and offers stunning views of the Continental Divide; perfect for an afternoon lounging with friends, drinks and a few appetizers.

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FOOD & DRINK

We started our evening at Mustachios with beers. While wine would have no doubt been a more appropriate choice, and Mustachios has an expansive selection to choose from, I decided to take one of the Colorado brewed beers Mustachios' keeps on tap instead.

After perusing the "Bar Fare and Appetizer" menu we narrowed down our choices to the tremendously tempting sausage roll or the fried calamari. We settled on the calamari. Calamari, when done right, is delicious; firm yet delicate with a velvety flavor profile that is hard to compare to other things.

When done poorly calamari is tough, rubbery and tastes like little more than the fried dough it's cooked in. Fortunately I can say the calamari at Mustachios is the best I have ever had in the US. Mustachios serves their calamari lightly fried along with their homemade marinara sauce and a wonderful basil aioli.

The main course selections at Mustachios are superb and not surprisingly focus on Italian cuisine. Anyone who drives by Mustachios on a regular basis knows veal Parmesan is a specialty of the restaurant and is commonly featured as their special for the evening. Other highlights of their dinner menu include Mustachios' signature lasagna (with a veggie lasagna option), chicken Marsala and their spaghetti or penne pasta.

For our night at Mustachios we focused our attention on the seafood fare. The lobster ravioli was delicious, delicate and filling. The ravioli was not overstuffed and was served in a robust spiced red sauce that the ciabatta bread soaked up well. When the dish was first served I must admit I was a little disappointed in the size of the portion but the deep dish they served it in was deceiving; I struggled to finish the entire helping and had no room for dessert afterwards.

The dessert offerings at Mustachios, limoncello mascarpone cake, pistachio panna cotta, gelato and spumoni, made me regret having filled up before considering something sweet.

SERVICE

The service at Mustachios was sincerely friendly. Our waiter was attentive yet un-intrusive and seemed to show genuine interest in us as customers; asking where we were from and what we were doing in the high country just before Christmas. His demeanor did not feel forced nor were our exchanges of conversation purely a business transaction. We felt welcomed rather than waited upon; an important distinction.

OVERVIEW

Mustachios is a great place to enjoy a lovely dinner or an afternoon lounging on the deck in the summers but potential patrons should be aware of two elements of Mustachios that are worth mentioning. The fare is decidedly Italian, if you love marinara, pasta and other traditional Italian favorites you will love Mustachios; if you're not the biggest fan of those flavors it might not be for you. Additionally, Mustachios is not overly expensive, most of their dinner menu items fall in the $16 to $20 range, but by that same token it is not for the overly price conscience consumer; the cheapest item on their dinner menu (Spaghetti or Penne Pasta) goes for $14.

Overall I would recommend Mustachios to anyone who enjoys traditional Italian-American cuisine and is looking for a quiet relaxed dinning experience.

Mustachios on the Lake is owned and operated by David and Lisa Pratt.

The restaurant features classic Italian-American recipes handed down to the Pratts by Lisa’s mother Jean Matt.

The Matt family was originally from Italy and was named Matteo before immigrating to the US. According to David as the family passed through Ellis Island an immigration officer shortened their surname to Matt.

Mustachios is open seven days a week during the summer high season and is open three to four days a week during the winter season, depending on the particular week.

The restaurant is typically closed during the month Nov. and reopens for Thanksgiving weekend.

Mustachios also closes for a period of time each April.

Lisa and David do most of the prep cooking for the restaurant’s Italian dishes and are always quick to give credit for their recipes to Lisa’s mother Jean.

The most popular item on their menu is the lasagna, their specialty, with the other Italian favorites also being among their more popular dishes. Mustachios opened for business Memorial Day Weekend 2013.

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