South Broadway has gone through some big changes in recent years, but one thing that you can always rely on is Gennaro’s Cafe Italiano. Time seems to stop here; as one of the oldest Italian restaurants in Denver, you can sense the history as you walk in. Even the murals on the building’s exterior speak to a time that has since passed.
Owner Tonya Tiscanni bought the restaurant “from the last Gennaro who wanted anything to do with this kind of business,” she jokingly told us. Since 2008, she and her mostly-retired business partner Irene Herrera (who makes all of the delicious desserts) have worked to keep Gennaro’s the same neighborhood Italian place that it has been for decades. “I like to call it a Ma and Ma shop,” Tonya laughs.
The business itself is split into a restaurant and bar section, allowing patrons to choose what kind of experience they’d like. In the restaurant, you’ll get served delicious food in a quiet room, where you can peek into the kitchen as chefs prepare your meal under a sign claiming their pizza as “the best in Denver.” In the bar, there’s a stage set up for the wide variety of events hosted at Gennaro’s.
People don’t just come here for the food and drinks, though! Tuesday is their Open Mic Night, where one of two house have been with the business for most of the last decade performs as patrons enjoy a 2 for 1 happy hour. Wednesday is Trivia Night, Saturdays are for live local bands, and Sundays are Poker nights in the restaurant.
Gennaro’s had some problems to overcome when Tonya and Irene moved in – “There was a bulldozer out front for six months…and no sidewalk!” Tonya shared with us. Taking over right as the Broadway Renewal Project began meant a lot of construction. Since then, they’ve seen a lot of new competition move into the area. Tonya didn’t seem too worried about it, though – the food stands for itself, and Gennaro’s is deeply ingrained in the community.
Swallow Hill Music members receive 10% off their bill upon showing their member card. In addition, concertgoers can show their concert ticket to receive either buy one get one appetizers or cocktails. Gennaro’s Cafe Italiano is located at 2598 S Broadway, and is open all week from 11am-2am. You can reach them at (303) 722-1044.
This article was written by Swallow Hill Music Administrative Assistant Mia Lang.