Snowmass Gets Savory With Sam's

By Oliver Sharpe, updated November 2022

Aspen Snowmass is known for delivering exceptional experiences in unexpected places. Sam’s, perched atop Snowmass, continues the tradition of high-country hospitality with exquisite Italian fare served at 10,000 feet.

Located at the top of the Village Express lift, Sam’s is both convenient to access and perfectly situated to highlight views from Big Burn to Mt. Sopris. The name—of both the restaurant and the peak on which it sits—honors Sam Stapleton, a local rancher who spent his teenage years tending his family’s sheep on the lower slopes in the summer and exploring the higher mountains on skis in the winter.

The restaurant, which opened in 1967 alongside the first lifts on Snowmass, has a rich history of revelry. In its most recent incarnation, the fully renovated Sam’s provides a true mountain oasis. Welcomed by a warm fire and plush couches, guests are invited to slide out of their ski boots and into some slippers. Comfortable feet are critical when leaning into a long lunch, and once your feet are cozily ensconced in the complimentary slippers you can get serious about your meal.

The cuisine, which ranges from Southern Italian seafood to the heartier cuisine of the Alps, was inspired by the travels of Aspen Snowmass Culinary Director Jim Butchart and Executive Chef Brett Thompson. “We've traveled extensively in Italy,” Butchart says. “This was a great opportunity for us to introduce Italian to the mountains.” While Sam's menu represents food from nearly every major region of Italy, Snowmass has also opened the Alpin Room, serving more Alps-inspired cuisine and located atop the Alpine Springs lift on the other side of the mountain.
“Pranzo In Famiglia,” which translates loosely to family style lunch, is displayed prominently on the menu which dedicates an entire page to antipasti. Visitors are encouraged to fill the table with small plates to share. Standouts included the Margherita Arancini, a favorite of Butchart’s from the street vendors in Palermo, and the Proscuitto Americano, which was sliced dangerously thin on the Ferrari-red Legend slicer and served with Tuscan-style onion coccioli, fig jam and ricotta.

If you have room for more, the Pizza a la Nonna, a doughy homage to Sicilian grandmothers, is not to be missed. A square pie with perfectly caramelized edges, it is served with shears to cut your own slices. (Personally, I am a fan of food that comes with specialty tools). The pasta dishes are all handmade in-house and generously offered in two sizes, to avoid the embarrassing situation of being taken down by ski patrol in a toboggan after crushing too many carbs. The Rigatoni Bolognese and Bucatini Pomodoro are simple dishes executed excellently with locally-sourced ingredients.

How to Do Sam's Fast

Sams, new restaurant at Snowmass

Sams, new restaurant at Snowmass

If you’re not in the mood for a seated, multicourse lunch with slippers, grab a seat in the bar or on the patio for a quick bowl of Ribbolita, a hearty Tuscan stew that makes a perfect snack before getting back on the slopes.

Visit Sam's
The cocktail and wine programs, developed by Manager Rodrigo Ramirez, compliment the overall mountain Italian experience. Enjoy a Negroni Spritz as a refreshing aperitif before diving into the Italian wine list. The bar boasts an extensive list of Amaro’s that can be sampled as a flight, and the signature Café Alpino, a caffeinated cocktail that provides just the right amount of pick me up to get you back into your ski boots.

Between the majestic views, exceptional ambiance and authentic food, Sam’s is once again the center of the dining universe on Snowmass. Walk-ins are welcome but it fills up fast, reservations are recommended.

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