(out of 5)
Food: Four and a half
Overall: Four and a half
If you go
What: Riggio’s Ristorante
Where: 1106 Lincoln Ave.
When: Opens daily at 5 p.m.
Contact: 970-879-9010; www.riggiosfineitalian.com; reservations accepted
Cuisine: Family-oriented fine Italian food with nightly chef specials
Cost: Expect to spend $30 to $40 a person, excluding alcohol and tip
Steamboat Springs Riggio’s Ristorante is quickly becoming one of the best restaurants in Steamboat Springs. Rich and Stacey Most have created a fun and inviting atmosphere where guests feel entirely welcome. While many establishments attempt to be family friendly while still offering a fine dining experience, Riggio’s has succeeded in this demanding task. By offering a variety of appealing menu selections such as Fileto Capricio ($28), Cioppino ($22) and a variety of brick-oven pizzas ($12), the Mosts offer charm and variety for the masses.
The restaurant is well known for its decorative yet quiet atmosphere, with a large private dining room upstairs that seats about 40 and a bustling yet somewhat secluded bar area. An attractive mural featuring previous proprietors certainly gets your attention while seated in the cozy main dining room.
Our server, Lisa, was friendly and familiar with the menu preparations. She also was well versed in wines, recommending a young pinot noir for the duck, and pinot grigio for the salmon. They were excellent suggestions, and the service was well executed.
The evening began with a sautee of fresh broccoli florets with heaps of garlic and plenty of white wine ($7). The appetizer was simple yet crisp and flavorful, aided by a healthy accompaniment of freshly shredded Reggiano parmesan. The dish could have been served hotter, but it was delicious nonetheless.
Calamari is delicate and a difficult item to prepare — or at least to prepare perfectly. Many establishments fry calamari in batters or breadcrumbs in an attempt to hide the fact that they know they are going to overcook the squid. Inevitably they do so, but not at Riggio’s. I love the restaurant’s blend of tomatoes, capers and olives sautéed with wine and garlic and tossed lightly with the squid. Despite the challenge of squid’s small temperature threshold when cooking, the chef prepared a delicious rendition of calamari ($12) that was savory, light and traditional Mediterranean in style.
Chef Most’s nightly special was an Old World combination of cheese-filled herbed ravioli, freshly prepared duck confit and extra virgin olive oil ($25). What more can one ask for? The duck was pulled cleanly from the bone after being steeped in its own juices and covered in a layer of duck fat. Served buttery and severely rich in nature, it was a great complement to the freshness and balance of the appetizer.
Salmon Carciofi ($22) was a well-presented dish with artichokes and tomatoes but slightly cool in temperature and the sauce did not sit well on the pasta. The salmon was fresh, flaky and moist.
The homemade peanut butter pie was marvelous for dessert. A sweet and smooth peanut butter mousse with an Oreo cookie crust and thin chocolate topping, I could have eaten at least one more slice. And it was only $2.50 — far from the exorbitant rate you would expect for homemade desserts of this quality.
Costing a grand total of about $90 for two of us, it again was clear that value is what sets Riggio’s apart from so many other fine dining establishments. If you have a restaurant with great value and good food, you have a recipe for success. Give Riggio’s a try.
The Steamboat Today’s restaurant reviewer is a full-time Steamboat Springs resident with extensive professional experience in culinary arts and the restaurant industry. For questions or comments, e-mail food@steamboat pilot.com.