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How to Picnic in the Park

Spinelli’s Market Gives a Lesson in Packing the Perfect Basket

Article by Linden Butrym

Photography by Poppy & Co. by Kelsey Huffer

Originally published in Cherry Creek Lifestyle

Summertime in Denver is synonymous with crisp, cool mornings that slowly transition into breezy afternoons splashed with sunshine. Our city is dotted with lush parks, meaning there’s an array of green spaces where you can soak in the warm rays before fluffing out a blanket and artfully arranging the contents of your picnic basket for an alfresco lunch. Sure, grabbing a bite on a picturesque patio is delightful, but we prefer the nostalgic vibe of picnicking in the park, too.

At a loss for what to pack? We consulted Spinelli’s Market, a Park Hill staple since 1994 when Jerry and Mary Ellen Spinelli opened the Italian deli to serve hearty, homemade sandwiches. In 2014, the couple sold the business to brothers John and Ted Moutzouris, who last year opened a second Spinelli’s in Congress Park in partnership with Denver hospitality duo Jake Riederer and Cecelia Jones. Just last month, the team debuted a third on The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Each location offers the original sandwich recipes plus an assortment of cheeses, spreads, chips and prepared meals like chicken parmesan. Many ingredients and goods are local, including baguettes from Boulder’s Breadworks Bakery, raw meats from neighborhood shops Tonali’s Meats and Polidori Sausage, salmon brought in daily from Town & Country Market on Colfax, and deli meats and cheeses from Denver’s Western Deli and Rocky Mountain Provisions.

“We also have imported items through the support of companies like La Mozzarella, Gourmet Foods and European Imports,” says Kardi Constance, manager of Spinelli’s for the past four years (and an avid picnicker). “We are very lucky to have such great vendors who provide the freshest quality items.” As we reach the peak of summer, Kardi shares what she brings to an afternoon picnic, and the reasons why locals have remained loyal to Spinelli’s for three decades.

The top three things to pack for the perfect picnic

Besides a sandwich, my perfect picnic basket would include a hard crusty bread like Breadworks’ seeded baguette. I’d keep it simple by spreading some Tomasoni's Pecorino Spalmabile cheese (imported weekly). Jerry's cracked Sicilian olives would go awesomely with this combo. 

Your favorite goods from Spinelli’s

The Mexican lasagna is my favorite take-home meal. Pour on our housemade salsa, and pick up a Modelo (with freshly squeezed lime, of course) from Spinelli's Beer Wine & Spirits [next door to the Park Hill market]. If we’re talking a deli item, it’s the turkey curry, though the Waldorf chicken salad is a close runner-up. For sandwiches, it’s the sweet and savory delight that is the #4 turkey cranberry gouda.

Why Coloradans love the market

For us, it’s about creating an experience or a memory—taking care of a person from the time they set foot through the door until they’re seated in their car preparing to drive off. We are a small store in a city inundated with grocery stores. It's important that your sandwich be the best sandwich, and everything you have been craving all day.

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