After the mellow vibe of Shangri-La coffee just next door, Vita seemed almost frenetic. It’s cool, the kind of restaurant where 4 slightly menacing guys in Ray-Bans and leather would go (“Gestapo,” I said, having just watched Inglorious Basterds again; “Russian mob,” according to Todd). Beyond the bar fronting the windows, 3 circular black booths cluster in the center of the room, and everything curves around them. Abstract paintings punctuate the walls, and only when you visit the bathroom do you notice the “upstairs” level and, beyond it, the kitchen.
Right after Christmas, when we visited, the featured artist was Daniel Berv. This bejeweled painting hung over our booth, but my favorite was the atmospheric purplish one in the back room. (I know that’s not a sophisticated description, but it’s what I remember. I assumed it was Berv’s painting, although it had no price tag.)
I don’t recommend going to Vita while you’re on a diet; almost everything on the lunch menu is substantial. I was tempted by the panzanella after reading about Denveater‘s struggle to find a good Italian bread salad in Denver; I was also tempted by Shrimp Two Ways (tempura and tequila-poached). I chose the Caprese sandwich, with slabs of portobella and mozzarella, tomatoes, pesto, and watercress on focaccia. The mushroom and cheese were both sturdier than the bread, which crumbled in my hands. I mentioned it to the waiter, and he responded, “Yeah, but it tastes good, doesn’t it?” It did (mushroom and olive oil and mozzarella, oh my!), but I really do prefer not to drop crumbs and watercress all over the table. That complaint aside, I ate the whole damn thing, as well as the butternut squash soup. It tasted of cardamon, and the pepitas on top added a crunchy finish.
Todd ordered the Cubano, with braised pork, ham, Swiss cheese, mustard, and pickles on a Amoroso roll, and he did indeed seem to love the sandwich. It’s hard not to love such a meat-fest, with brown pork and pink shaved ham hanging out everywhere.
All the food was beautifully presented. In fact, the presentation reminded me of the finesse demonstrated at Encore over on Colfax.
Vita opened 3 years ago and was a 5280 favorite early on. Its rooftop offers a wide view of Denver in the summer.