|| Autumn Cutaia Photography ||
The weather hasn’t been kind to us Denverites, but on a cloudy day, there’s no place better than our next Sips & Style locale: Bones.
The corner of 7th & Grant gets quite a bit of traffic, not the least of which is from people headed into one of Denver’s most notable noodle houses. The dichotomies of this establishment start from the outside: wooden edging harkens to Japanese architecture, while white and black tiles ooze French style. The bright orange doors excite your palette and get you ready for the full sensory experience you’re about to receive. This is gonna be good.
The Bonanno family, who have made many a culinary contribution to this city of ours, only use existing spaces for their restaurants, and Bones is no exception. You would never know about this building’s prior life as a deli!
With the rain looming, I donned my trusty (faux) leather jacket and ducked into a place I’d been meaning to experience for quite some time.
The industrial kitchen is exposed, giving you a glimpse into the well-oiled machine helmed by Executive Chef Johnny DePierro (look out for his new baby MiJo this summer in Highland). If you’ve come for unconventional, you must try the Lobster Ramen, made with beurre blanc, a rich white butter sauce, and a flag to the Japanese-French fusion on offer. This is not your typical ramen joint.
If you’ve come during happy hour, you can find some of the more traditional fare on offer, and trust me, they are just as exciting. Definitely go for the delightfully sweet and savory pork belly buns. Go on.
No, but seriously, don’t leave without trying these.
You’re welcome. Take the opportunity to sample the selection of chilled sake as well. I learned that many restaurants serve sake hot to mask sub par quality, but Bones opts for chilled so every flavor is highlighted. Go for the sake flight, so you can try a few and share with your friends!
As a rookie sake drinker myself, I love the variety of styles available. For those just getting used to it, try the Ozeki, a light pink sparkling sake or Funaguchi Shinmai, a fresh, picnic-worthy drink.
There’s the more bold Mukune with notes of white pepper, and for the particularly adventurous, the milky coconut flavor of Perfect Snow is very unique. Clocking in at 21% alcohol, this guy packs a punch.
If sake isn’t your deal, any of the traditional cocktails are a treat. I recommend the Tokyo Sour: a whiskey sour done Bones-style, which means ginger liqueur and salted green tea syrup.
After the taste tests, I sat down with Lauren Hendrick, PR & Marketing maven for the Bonanno Group (and our bartender for the day) to crack the secret of my local ramen shop.
LW: We were talking about the culture you’re trying to create here at Bones.
LH: Bones opened because the Bonannos felt a niche needed to be filled. After having traveled and lived in different cities, they’d experienced really fun, hip intimate noodle shops. Denver really didn’t have any at the time and they wanted to create that.
Bones is meant to be the sort of place you can have really great conversation, hear the hustle and bustle of the kitchen, sit close to people. A place you can go if you don’t mind a community atmosphere, especially since there will probably be someone next to you slurping noodles loudly.
LW: The Bonannos seem very active and involved in all the restaurants they create. How do you think that family feel translates into the restaurants?
LH: Frank & Jacqueline Bonanno met while working in a Denver restaurant. He’s got a business degree, and she used to be a teacher, but she also has a very artistic eye. Jacqueline’s the creative director for the restaurant, everything from web design to branding. “Bones” stands for Frank Bonanno’s name growing up; he was called “Franky Bones” playing football. It also happens to be the base of stocks and broths so the name lends well to the noodle process.
LW: Johnny (DiPierro) mentioned the “noodle bubble” has burst. A lot of noodle houses seem to be popping up in, but Bones is one of the older ones. How does it fit in the Denver landscape?
LH: It’s become a Cap Hill staple, and its staying power is in its uniqueness. It’s Asian noodles, but with a French twist. That unique spin and the attention to detail— all of the Bonanno Group restaurants have survived because those elements work in tune.
Unlike Bones, a lot of things in Cap Hill are about quick change, especially the fashion. I can be in and out of my apartment, going from daytime to night in 10 minutes flat with the right pieces. The trick is to pick staples, and stick with the same color palette. Here’s what I mean.
I picked up this faux leather jacket from Inspyre Boutique‘s Semi-Annual Sale for $35, and it has been absolutely essential. With three shops across the Denver Metro, these well-curated boutiques have got you covered. This jacket is well-cut and adds just the right amount of effortless cool to any outfit. Investing in pieces that you’ll get a lot of use out of is key, and it always helps when you can get them at a great price! For the daytime, I paired my leather with another amazing texture, denim, on top and bottom.
For night, I remixed my pieces from the day. The black jacket and blue suede shoes (cue Elvis) stayed, along with this statement necklace that I received in a lovely Denver Style swap (it pays to have stylish friends!). Keeping things simple, I switched out the denim for a black romper that will take me from dining to dancing.
Even when it’s a horrible day in the neighborhood, you know Bones has got a steaming hot bowl of ramen waiting just for you.