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Image: Ryan Dearth

For Summit County’s restaurant king, Sauce on the Blue isn’t just another ski town family pizzeria and Italian eatery. It represents the culmination of everything he’s tried and learned in the business over the past two decades. 

“The ambience, the food, the libations—it’s never come together like this before,” gushes Shevy Rashidi, 48, a managing partner in the business who since 1995 has birthed no fewer than two dozen local eateries. 

Since it opened on the banks of the Blue River in Silverthorne in August, Sauce has fast become a locals favorite. And it’s easy to see why, starting with the décor. Last January Rashidi & co. took a raw commercial space that had dirt floors (and hadn’t been occupied in nine years) and by August gave it a bold, classy industrial modern identity—a cross between a warehouse dive and fine-dining brasserie. Recycled barn wood, sourced from Michigan, hangs behind the bar. Recycled steel siding from Wisconsin adds a rustic accent to the dining room. The hostess stand is an old Jim Beam barrel splayed wide. Bottles of top-shelf liquor sit in well-appointed wood cubbies 15 feet up the principal wall. 

Then there’s the view: resplendent throughout, thanks to 21-foot-high ceilings and dozens of windows, with Buffalo Mountain and Red Peak to the west and the Blue River burbling a mere 20 feet to the east. As managing partner Tim Applegate says without bluster, “There is no bad seat in this restaurant.” 

Nor are there any bad selections on the menu, adds Rashidi, the son of a steak house owner who was born in Tehran, lived there until he was nine, and has been involved with Italian eateries since 1999. (One of his other ventures is Breckenridge favorite Taddeo’s Ristorante, which was renamed Sauce on the Maggie in November.) For much of that time, Dan Hoyle has been his executive chef. 

Hoyle’s menu at Sauce on the Blue, executed by chef Jonathan Guest, features a mix of family-size salads (try the chopped, with bruschetta and crisped prosciutto over a tasty bed of greens) and entrées (the signature is the rigatoni and sausage—half pork, half veal and made in-house—in a tomato cream sauce), with exquisite specialty pizzas like the organic pie with roasted tomatoes, bell peppers, goat cheese, basil, arugula, and roasted garlic; the 16-inch version, with a lusciously chewy New York-style thin crust, is enough to feed four. 

Sauce’s signature house-made red sauce comes from a recipe that the mother of Taddeo’s namesake, Joe Taddeo, has been using at her restaurant in Pennsylvania for more than six decades, Rashidi says. The family-size menu extends to lunch, too, appealing for a working stiff with a prodigious appetite and modest means. (A heaping chicken Parmesan sandwich plus a side Caesar salad runs just $11.) 

Any Italian restaurant worth recommending to another fan of the genre must have a respectable wine selection, and Sauce fits this bill as well. You’ll find two Amarones and two Barolos (both rare Old World reds from Italy) and a range of high-end Napa cabs on the list, highlighted by the $295-per-bottle David Arthur Elevation 1147. 

Nightly entrée specials range from ravioli to duck to elk and lamb; Hoyle occasionally offers fresh fish, too, flown in from around the world. Sauce does brunch in addition to dinner, and when it’s warm enough to sit outside, a 60-seat patio hums with the buzz of conversation and whitewater. 

Perhaps the best measure of any restaurant is whether it can attract return customers. According to Rashidi, that has been Sauce’s strength since it opened. “We’re 250 percent over our predicted budget seven weeks into it,” he said in October. “Some people have literally been in here 15 times.” I’m working on besting that.  

Sauce on the Blue
358 Blue River Pkwy, Silverthorne

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