This restaurant is so Italian that one almost feels compelled to furnish a passport just to enter. It is a refreshing change to step into an Italian ... More
This restaurant is so Italian that one almost feels compelled to furnish a passport just to enter. It is a refreshing change to step into an Italian restaurant that does not consider a red-and-white checkered tablecloth as a decorative mandate. Instead, the dining area exudes a Tuscan charm with muted pastel stucco walls, designer Italian chairs and lights that resemble illuminated wasps nests. It offers the only carpaccio bar in town which features mouth treats like smoked buffalo, seared ahi and Beluga caviar. The main menu taunts the tongue with authentic dishes such as the Breaded Veal Cutlet and the Roasted Cornish Hen. All pasta and focaccia bread are made fresh daily.
Poor service, poor food. Servers reach across diners to lay down or pick up plates, they forget to offer parmesan on pasta, the veal entree was refigerator cold (after complaining it was returned charred black), food was plain and overpriced. After 10 days in Aspen it was by far the worst meal we had.
I don't usually write food reviews (in fact this is my first), but I felt compelled to do so because both the food and the service were remarkably poor and disappointing. We started with the pasta e fagioli (soup). Having grown up enjoying this staple around my Italian family’s table, and having ordered it at many restaurants, I expected a soup with white beans and a healthy dose of pasta. L’Hostaria’s version was with black beans and almost no pasta, and tasted more Mexican than Italian. I assumed it was a regional preference, however, when my boyfriend and I tasted it we found that it was no more than black beans, water, oil, some few pieces of undercooked pasta, and chopped parsley. For $8.50 (perhaps cheap by Aspen’s fluctuated prices), it was the worst soup I ever had. There was no flavor whatsoever. When we asked the waiter about the chef's regional heritage, he said that it was northern Italy. Though he didn’t warn us in advance, he wasn’t surprised that we didn’t like it and volunteered that many other people had complained about it too. But that didn’t’ stop him from selling it to the table next to us, and we took no pleasure in hearing that table – while trying valiantly to fix it with heaps of salt and pepper – complain about it too.
We sent the soup back nearly untouched, but received no sympathy or compensation from the waiter.
The tagliatelli with tomato and basil was simple, clean, and delicious, and the highlight of the meal. The prosciutto and phyllo appetizer was decent but unspectacular. For my entrée, the waiter steered me from my first choice to his recommendation, but that was equally boring, meager, and flat.
We were obviously disappointed with the meal in total, and received nothing more than a brushoff from our unengaged waiter.
We’ve been vacationing in Aspen for a full week, and enjoyed fantastic food though. This was the lowlight of the entire trip, and unless you’ve been in town for a month or two and eaten everywhere else, I encourage you to avoid this restaurant.
L'Hostaria's offerings are interesting and well-executed. The chef knows what he is doing and knows not to overdo. Delicious salads, appetizers, and breads, refined entrees, lovely desserts, and a solid bar. I have been working my way through this menu and have yet to be disappointed.
We tried L'Hostaria on the recommendation of our concierge. It's upscale Italian, but reasonably priced. I think this was our least expensive dinner in Aspen... of course, we do tend to hit all the most expensive places in an already expensive town. The food ranged from the typical (calamari with spicy marinara sauce) to creative (salad with crimini mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes & shaved parmesan in a truffle dressing with a warm goat cheese bruschetta) -- both of which were very tasty. The veal scaloppini topped with proscutto was incredible. The restaurant is located underground, but feels very open with a patio, two large dining rooms and a bar. It is much more spacious than Campo de Fiori. Inside the decor is dimly lit with lightly colored walls, white table cloths and complementary art.