PARSIPPANY, N.J. – Two longtime Ukrainian friends from New Jersey, Bo Porytko and Dan Lasiy, who are living their dream in Denver with the successful launch of Rebel restaurant. Both are chefs and co-owners of the restaurant.
Since its opening on July 14, Rebel has been featured in the top food reviews for Denver and nationally by Zagat and others.
Zagat.com listed Rebel among Denver’s top-10 “Hottest New Restaurants,” and in its review stated: “This eclectic American haunt in RiNo [River North] from New Jersey transplants and chefs Bo Porytko and Dan Lasiy features an adventurous board of small plates and main dishes, including fired kimchi croquettes, pierogi stuffed with foie gras and mushrooms, and a whole lamb’s head displayed on a silver platter, all of which are unleashed in a smashing dining room bedecked with ornate tinned walls, handcrafted community tables and a striking copper-topped bar that pours everything from craft beer to clever cocktails focused on housemade shrubs.”
The website states: “…Rebel Restaurant is a unique dining experience, unlike any other. Rebel is part miniature Biergarten, part English gastro pub and part Cheers, paired with exceptional food and outrageous cocktails that showcase our sick sense of humor.”
In speaking to The Ukrainian Weekly, Chef Lasiy explained: “It’s been a shocker considering it has been a little over two months since we opened, but we’ve found a receptive audience, and the neighborhood is similar to Brooklyn. We did not intend to have a ‘shock’ menu, as many of the items are not what you would expect to find. We play toward the local tastes, like our pierogies filled with pork and green chilies – a Colorado combo staple. Other popular pierogi filings have been the potato and smoked cheese. Some people don’t like mushrooms, but they’ll try the foie gras-and-mushroom-filled pierogies. The lamb’s head has also been a local favorite.”
Chef Porytko noted: “The feedback has been awesome. Considering it is only week 10 for us since opening, we’re still brand new, but already we’re seeing that we’ve begun something. The neighborhood where we are located is going through a revival, including a new light rail system nearby and the tide is turning. We’re a little off the beaten path, and it has taken a second for people to find us. Our formula has been high-grade food served in a casual atmosphere. The communal dining is part of the experience at Rebel, and we’re thinking of new ways to engage locally. Some ideas include a chef competition on a monthly basis.”
“With our Ukrainian offerings, we’ve found that cooking pierogies at high altitude is also something that required the traditional recipes to be modified,” added Mr. Porytko. “We’re also thinking of adding holubtsi in the rotation. And we’ve just sold out of the bigos.”
The rotating menu selections are based on what is sustainably available, not limited to necessarily what is in season. Other Ukrainian-inspired offerings include green chili bigos (braised pork belly with sauerkraut, thyme and caramelized shallots). “We’ve found that sauerkraut is not that popular in Colorado,” Mr. Lasiy said.
But what has earned Rebel its adventurous following is its showcase of less-often used cuts, such as sweetbreads, beef heart tartare, roasted pigs head or lambs head, among others.
Mr. Lasiy, 32, originally from Livingston, N.J., with 12 yeas of professional culinary experience, and Mr. Porytko, originally from Morris Plains, N.J., and also an experienced chef, “…share a passion for not only food, but the way it brings people together. Rebel is a culmination of everything that has inspired them over the years. It pays homage to food history but utilizes a newer approach to what a restaurant can be,” as noted on Rebel’s website.
Joining the Rebel team are Kyle Foster, an experienced chef who has added his talents in the kitchen, and general manager Steve Boensch, who is a Philadelphia native.
The restaurant allows walk-ins only, and its hours are Mon.-Thrus. 5 p.m. – 10 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 3 p.m. – 10 p.m., Sun. closed. Readers can learn more by subscribing to Rebel Restaurant’s Facebook page, by telephone, 303-297-3902, visit the restaurant, located at 3763 Wynkoop Street, Denver CO 80216, or the restaurant’s website, www.rebelrestaurant.com.