Montagna Since chef Ryan Hardy came to Aspen last fall from the Coach House on Martha's Vineyard, he's made Montagna as amazing as the hotel where it's located, the Little Nell. Not only does Hardy produce his own cheese, he's also transforming a broom closet into an aging room for his charcuterie. I love his farmhouse cooking: bruschetta topped with silky serrano ham, grilled asparagus and anchovies, and extra-crispy chicken with favas, radishes and pecorino shavings. That chicken dish is so good, it's inspired me to create a version of my own.
D19 There's no sign outside this new pan-Italian spot, but it's around the corner from the Mediterranean-style Wild Fig; chef Dena Marino oversees both places. At D19, she serves what I think is a quintessential Aspen dish—a hearty minestra soup with tiny meatballs and all the requisite vegetables—and some great entrées, like Tuscan marinated grilled skirt steak.
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The Wine Spot Instead of a big-deal restaurant, the recently opened Hyatt Grand Aspen installed a comfortable wine bar off of its lobby. The sweet little menu includes a "stinky cheese plate" that includes Epoisses and the Spanish Cabrales blue cheese. Each suite, in Hyatt parlance "a residence," has a Viking kitchen (range, refrigerator, the works), and the chefs will take guests to the farmers' market and then teach them to prepare what they just bought.