Bravo to Allegria: Carbondale Lifestyle Adds Local Flavor to Chef’s Old World Pedigree
Chef and restaurateur Andreas Fischbacher has crafted Allegria Restaurant in Carbondale into one of the Roaring Fork Valley’s dining gems.
It is the culmination of a career that began at an Austrian hotel restaurant in the Alps near Vienna and included stints on the Côte d’Azur, in New York City and atop Aspen Highlands ski area.
Andreas began looking to open his own place in 2011, and soon found a home on Main Street, next to Phat Thai. He sealed the deal for one of the coziest spaces in the Valley in late May that year, and Allegria opened for business just four days later.
“I didn’t care how much we might screw up, or if we only had two dishes— the restaurant was not going to be closed on First Friday in June,” Andreas recalls, speaking with a thick Austrian accent.
Allegria has come a long way since that hurried opening for Carbondale’s monthly art walk. It has one of the largest selections of wine by the glass in the Valley, with 35 or so different choices each night. The menu features a combination of Italian and European dishes that reflect the palate of Andreas’s background.
His Austrian upbringing influences entrees like Veal Schnitzel and perhaps the most flavorful Beef Stroganoff you’ll ever taste. Appetizers include Burrata Bruschetta Caprese—tomato, buffalo mozzarella, pesto and white balsamic syrup—and Beef Tartar topped with a farm-fresh egg and made with grassfed Scottish highland beef from Basalt-based Mountain Primal Meat Co.
Seafood is featured throughout the menu as well, including an appetizer of mussels poached in garlic, parsley and Chablis sauce; lobster bisque with cognac crema; and entrees that include capellini pasta, with mussels, shrimp, clams, salami and rapini; and cioppino.
Allegria’s pastas rival any in the Valley, and include spaghetti, penne, gnocchi and a roasted butternut squash ravioli.
Adding to the depth of the restaurant’s reputation for flavor is the fact that Andreas and his staff make all the sausage, tomato sauce and breads in house.
Andreas enjoys what he calls the “Carbondale lifestyle” that he has carved out with his wife, Sigrid. “I can go horseback riding with my cowboy hat today, mushroom hunting tomorrow and then play golf an hour later. I can ride my mountain bike whenever I please. We have the music, the intellectuals, the art. We have the Thursday rodeo—a pickup truck tailgate rodeo. You cannot give me all the money in the world [in exchange] for this place. It is a hoot.”
Allegria has become extremely popular by creating an intimate and relaxed experience for its customers. “You can come in and have a nice meal and a glass of wine,” Andreas says. Or, he adds, you can simply enjoy a piece of homemade bread with a nice, fresh pasta dish.
Allegria’s space is tight, with 10 tables and booths and a bar that seats six. (In the summer, there is outdoor seating, on a streetside deck, as well.) But even when every chair is filled, the atmosphere is comfortable, not crowded. The open kitchen, present but not overwhelmingly so, is as much a part of the atmosphere as the dining area. The walls are decorated with pictures and items that Andreas has gathered over the years. The space feels larger during daylight because of the large windows that fill the front wall.
“I liked it the first time I saw the place,” he says. “It has a good vibe, with brick walls and the big windows.”
Andreas talks with pride about his wine selection, which is both extensive and affordable, thanks to his willingness to open much of the selection to serve by the glass.
“Wine is a very deep subject,” he offers. “I like to hear what people like to drink, and I also know what I like to drink. Putting those together, we have made a nice wine list, an international wine list. We have some Italians, some French wines, we have one or two Austrians. We have wine from New Zealand and Australia, and California.”
“I like to fit wines into the right palate, and into the right pocketbook, for my clients,” he says.
Allegria’s “daily menu” is an ever-changing offering of appetizers, salads, soups and entrees featuring the freshest produce and meats available in markets and from local food producers. The daily menu is also where Andreas and his team can experiment with new dishes. “I like to write that menu, ideally sell it out, and write it again the next day,” he says. “It’s not corporate. I can listen to customers and react fairly quickly.”
Part of what makes that possible is Carbondale’s proximity to Aspen with its rich restaurant culture. A number of local farms and ranches are set up to meet demand, and fresh meats and produce are delivered five or six days a week, making it possible for Allegria to present a fresh menu year round. “I can buy in small batches, so it is always fresh,” he says.
On his way to opening up Allegria, Andreas worked at the Grand Hyatt in Manhattan and the Aspen Meadows. He gained local and international renown with his 15-year stint as executive chef of Cloud Nine Alpine Bistro on Aspen Highlands, which gained its reputation as one of the best on-mountain restaurants in the world under his stewardship.
“After working for the Aspen Skiing Co., I was looking at the puzzle that is my career, and the ownership piece was the one that was definitely missing,” he says.
Presto! Allegria! An establishment that only Chef Andreas Fischbacher could create.
GO FIND IT!
355 Main St., Carbondale