Dio Mio Italian Cuisine is located in the Five Points neighborhood of Denver, which is in the North of the city, and is a neighborhood that has exploded in the past few years with some of the best restaurants in the metro area. It prides itself on “counter service, affordable wines, good vibes, and artisanal spaghetti monsters”. My photographer Claire Stragand and myself visited to see if the food was up to the hype, and I have to say, we were absolutely blown away by the experience.
Dio Mio has an amazing and friendly vibe, and is also unpretentious enough that you feel at home trying new things, and don’t feel afraid to ask questions about something you might not be familiar with. We tried a few of the most recommended dishes by customers who had posted photos and reviews online, and were also able to do an interview and photoshoot with Executive Chef Ahki Iman Jackson. On his recommendation, we started with the House Sourdough with Prosciutto, Stracciattella, and 15-year Balsamic, and the Black Butter-Marinated Artichoke Hearts with Orange (that perfect bit of citrus was our favorite part!). The Squid Ink Creste di Galli and Cacio e Pepe pastas were absolutely incredible. The squid ink was something I’ve never tasted something quite like, and was my favorite of the evening by far. Dio Mio does pastas that hit both a home spot for savory, and also have a few new flavors and elements that take all of their dishes to the next level. They are innovative without being unapproachable. It’s the perfect spot for a Midwestern girl who loves comfort food, while also being open to experiencing new tastes and ideas, so I could not recommend it more.
We had the pleasure of interviewing Alexander Figura, Co-Chef and Owner, and Executive Chef, Ahki Iman Jackson, and getting to know a little bit about Dio Mio’s mission, how it started, and their goals for the future of the restaurant.
Thank you so much for having us at Dio Mio. Can you tell us a bit more about how and when the restaurant got started, and how it has become what it is today?
Alexander Figura - Co-chef/owner: The concept started about 8 years ago, when Spencer and I were working together and we were always looking for a place to dine at on our days off that we could afford as cooks. At the time in Denver, it was tough. We brainstormed a bunch, and pasta just seemed to stick as the staple for the concept. We opened in November of 2016. Through the years it has evolved, but the mainstay has always been offering high quality dishes using high quality products at an affordable price point, in an approachable atmosphere.
How would you describe Dio Mio, and the kind of food and experience you provide?
Alexander Figura: Dio Mio is a counter-service restaurant in a relaxed atmosphere, offering inventive dishes with pasta as our entree focus. We pull from all types of cuisines to influence our Italian backbone.
We had an incredible experience not only with the dishes provided and the general ambiance, but in getting to know your dedication to your craft. Can you tell our readers a bit more about your background, how you came to Dio Mio, and what your goals are for the future of the restaurant’s cuisine?
Ahki Iman Jackson - Executive Chef: My name is Ahki Iman Jackson, and I’m the Executive Chef. I’m from New Orleans, and I’ve been in the restaurant industry for 12 years. I’ve been a chef for 5 of those years, and I came from an Italian restaurant back home. Before that it was Creole and Puerto Rican fusion, and a variety of other fine dining Creole establishments. I moved to Denver In December 2021. I wanted to find somewhere that I would be most happy, and what would fit my style of hospitality, and I came across Dio Mio. My goals here are to keep the heart of the concept alive with its fine-dining caliber food, and filling people up with it. I come from a pretty big family, and food is huge back home… it’s community, it’s everything. I want our dishes to reflect that. When someone eats our food, I want them to feel like “this plate in front of me is everything right now”. I want Dio Mio to remain the warm place it is, and I want our food to be Denver’s number one choice.
What is your favorite dish that you have created for Dio Mio, and why?
Chef Ahki: I would have to say the Shrimp Cannelloni. It’s a big reflection of my cuisine background, as it’s Italian with bold Creole and Southern-spiced flavors. The plating is beautiful when presented to the table. There are three large prawns on top with heads intact, and you get your hands dirty and really get involved with the food - the plates come back clean every time. It’s a dish that really brings you into the present moment when you eat it, because you have so much flavor and seasoning on your hands that you can’t really do anything else or look at your phone until you finish it. You’re really focused on the dish you’re eating.
Anything else you would like us to know?
We are open 7 days a week, 4-9 Sunday-Thursday and 4-10 Friday & Saturday. We do happy hour from 4-6 Monday-Thursday.
How can people find your menu, make reservations, etc?
We do not do reservations. All our information is on our website
Thank you to LuLu, Brandon, Alexander, Ahki, and the entire Dio Mio crew for hosting us at Dio Mio, and for such a lovely dining experience! If you are visiting Denver, this is a MUST VISIT!