Located on the upper level of the Snowmass Mall near the Viewline Resort Snowmass, Il Poggio is the place to go in and around Aspen for traditional and innovative spins on Italian dishes.
When dining in Aspen, I’m often looking for hearty comfort food, and Il Poggio satisfies that craving and then some. Chef and owner of Il Poggio, Chris Blachly, has been at the helm of the restaurant for nearly 30 years, and his experience and love for Colorado shine through in his menu.
As this spot has earned some local loyalty over the past three decades, there was a long line of people waiting when it opened its doors. Only serving dinner, the restaurant has a vast array of vacationers, locals, and fervent regulars ready to burst through the doors at 5:30 every night. However, our wait wasn’t long, and an attentive crew of servers and managers was able to get everyone in and seated quickly and efficiently. Inside, the room is quaint and informal, with large, round, family-ready tables outfitted with olive oil, ready for the plates of warm bread that were rushed to us shortly after being seated.
Il Poggio is a cheery choice for diners in Aspen looking to escape the slew of celebrity hot spots and high-scale eateries in favor of something more homey. Quick pastas and pizzas, generous portions of meat and fish, and family style plates make this the perfect casual dining experience without skimping on flavor.
Immediately, we were drawn to the Prince Edward Island mussels, steamed in a vermouth, saffron, and Strega preparation. Plump mussels and a warming jus had us greedily dipping bread between bites of the fresh seafood, while the octopus salad — tossed with arugula, red wine vinegar, and cannellini beans — offered a much needed pop of freshness to our first course.
The generous pizza menu features all the classics — Margherita, prosciutto, and funghi — but the pancetta, garlic butter, and truffle oil pizza was hard to pass up. Salty and decadent, the truffle oil offered a punchy, pungent pop of flavor with a little chili oil (available upon request) not going astray. Craving a little acidity, the shrimp fettuccine with preserved lemon and mint was just what our taste buds desired, with perfectly al dente ribbons of pasta and zingy roasted peppers and tomatoes adding a refreshing note to this robust meal.
But you can’t go to an Italian restaurant and stop at a mere four dishes. The perfectly pink seared duck breast arrived with a tart black currant reduction, while the lamb loin chops topped with artichokes were beautifully prepared. With the meat being cooked to perfection in both dishes, it was clear this was no average family restaurant. The stakes are much higher around Aspen, and we could feel it here.
Favorites like sweet potato ravioli, veal gnocchi, and many glasses of wine filled the tables around us, all served by friendly staff who were eager to please. And dessert isn’t taken lightly here at all. So when in Rome, do as the Romans do and order the tiramisu. The unassuming classic tasted as though it was flown in directly from Italy; rich, creamy, and steeped in deliciously bold espresso, it was the perfect end to a decadent night.