Vanilla Bean French Toast made of Challah Bread.
Denver has no shortage of weekend brunch destinations. The various offerings range from delicate to hearty, pleasingly fancy to delightfully tacky. The different cultural influences of this city mean that many of the most beloved brunch locations are chic cosmopolitan fare (i.e. eggs benedict with lobster) or Mexican infused bar food (i.e. green chile breakfast burritos and football). With this in mind, the idea of going to brunch at an Italian restaurant called Shells and Sauce seemed… out of place.
Any initial misgivings were soon laid to rest. This small but classy family-owned ristorante on the corner of E. 12th and Elizabeth provides a wonderful combination of an upscale dining experience at completely affordable prices.
The first impression of the restaurant is immediately pleasing. The interior is decorated in a sleek modern style that is impressive without being pretentious. It just looks nice. The space is bright, warm, and open. If the weather is nice, you can sit out front on the sidewalk or in the new rooftop patio. Both are great for enjoying the Capitol Hill neighborhood scene. Like the restaurant itself, the wait staff is down-to-Earth and friendly. The service is fast and attentive. What makes all of this even better is that you can easily come in and sit down to a leisurely meal without the thronging crowds and expansive waiting lists that often accompany better-known weekend breakfast places.
Benedict Florentine, Potatoes, Roasted Asparagus
Besides all of that, there is the food. The brunch menu is two-sided, and everything on it is affordable. Not a single menu item is more than $10. The front is Italian and has a selection of soups and salads, sandwiches (including a breakfast panini), and pastas (stuffed shells, spaghetti, cheese ravioli, etc.). On the backside are is a list of classic and less traditional breakfast specials, all presented masterfully with a freshness and flare that quickly make them stand out from similar plates at other restaurants.
One must-try item is the Benedict Florentine. Two poached eggs sit atop spinach, tomatoes, and focaccia bread, and are then covered in hollandaise sauce. All of the ingredients are fresh and flavorful and come together to make an amazingly delectable dish. Served with a side of less-greasy-than-most-places hash browns, every bite is incredibly satisfying. Despite its richness, you will want to finish every last bit.
Another great version of an old classic is the French toast. Theirs is vanilla-bean-battered challah bread, sprinkled with powdered sugar, and served with homemade whipped cream (I’m only assuming it’s homemade, because it’s that good), and topped with a strawberry. French Toast tends to be used up and burned out, but this plate sent me into a nostalgic frenzy of hunger. I eagerly swallowed it up, using a minimal amount of syrup, so as not to take away from the already awesome flavor.
The portions on these items are more than ample, but if you are looking for something extra hearty and a little greasier, try the Vesuvio Country Breakfast. They grill up peppers, onions, and hash browns with your choice of bacon, sausage, or mushrooms. It’s then topped with provolone, two eggs, and marinara sauce.
Enjoy these great meals with a mimosas or bloody mary for only $3.
Vesuvio Country Breakfast with Mushrooms
There is something here for everyone. They have the fancier dishes, but they also have things like chicken fried steak, biscuits and gravy, juevos rancheros, and of course, green chile breakfast burritos. This is Denver, after all. No matter what you are in the mood for, you will find it here. The menu is also very vegetarian friendly, with several meatless choices and the option to substitute Portobello mushrooms for meat on most dishes. Regardless of what you order, you can be sure that the price will be right, the presentation will be impressive, the service will be down to Earth, and the food will be excellent.
2600 E.12th Ave.
Denver, CO 80206
(303) - 377 - 2091
Hours of Operation: