Primi Pasta and Wine Bar, Durango’s newest restaurant on Main Avenue, opened Friday night in the space formerly occupied by Guido’s Pizza Pasta Panini, offering dishes inspired by the simple, locally-sourced food served in the Italian countryside.
Primi’s owners, Jarrod and Tracy Regan, traveled extensively during the past 10 years in Italy, drawn by the food and culture. They decided to share what they discovered through their new restaurant at 1201 Main Ave.
“What we liked best is the simple first courses in Italy, which are the pasta dishes,” Jarrod said.
The name of the restaurant, which means first course, reflects this focus, the owners said.
The couple brings experience to their new venture as the previous owners of Raider Ridge Café, an operation they sold in 2018 because they were ready for a change.
The new concept allows Tracy to apply her skills and love for wines as a sommelier, a certification she gained after she was inspired by her travels in Italy guiding bicycle tours.
“We can bring in some of those more obscure Italian wines that are really delicious and fun to try,” she said.
The owners also plan to replicate, as much as possible, the Italian style of buying ingredients from local farmers, Jarrod said. For example, the restaurant is currently purchasing onions, carrots and pumpkins from Mountain Roots Produce in Mancos.
The restaurant’s menu and wine pairings are expected to change seasonally as new ingredients become available. In August, the restaurant’s menu will likely feature fresh tomato sauces and salads, such as a caprese, Jarrod said.
Such a salad would pair well with a Falanghina available at Primi, a white wine with crisp light notes, Tracy said.
Handmade pasta dishes are available for $8 to $15. Salads are available for $5 to $12 and paninis are available for $7 to $10.
Customers may top off a meal at Primi with house-made gelato or an amaro, a bitter herbal liquor that can stimulate digestion.
While Primi might sound like fine dining, the Regans plan a fast-casual model, so customers can order at the counter or at the bar and leave on their own time.
“It puts the diner more in command,” Jarrod said.
Fast-casual restaurants are likely to become more common because Colorado’s minimum wage has risen steadily, Jarrod said. The model also allows the whole restaurant staff to share in tips and be paid more equally.
During its first weekend, Primi expects to be open from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Going forward, the restaurant will be open for dinner and lunch from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. It will be closed Sundays.