Fresh. Local. Seasonal.
Opened in 2009, Arugula started with Alec Schuler’s dream to create a simple, natural and elegant dining experience in North Boulder. Inspired by the flavors of Northern Italy and Colorado’s abundant farm-fresh seasonal ingredients, Arugula combines traditional culinary craft with innovative health-focused interpretations to create simple elegant fare. The result: a clean-cooking Modern Italian restaurant that puts an upscale twist on healthy food in unexpected ways.
Dedicated to sourcing only the best seasonal organic ingredients from Boulder’s local farms and purveyors, Arugula puts a fresh spin on classic dishes. With its locovore philosophy, the menu changes twice per week, so the culinary team can offer the bounty available from Boulder’s local farms and purveyors. Deep-rooted relationships with those local farmers, ranchers and purveyors allow Arugula to really showcase local farm fresh vegetables, fruits, and naturally raised meats used on every menu. Each dish is robust in flavor, accompanied with an abundance of fresh vegetables and herbs, with beautiful color on the plate.
Also devoted to its sustainable dining practices, Arugula offers eco-conscious food lovers a variety of seafood that complies with the sustainability standards of the Monterey Bay Aquarium. The restaurant is also home to an extensive wine list and also includes a variety of menu items that have been created exclusively to pair with featured wines by the glass.
And, because we know that guests’ dietary needs are important, every menu offers selections that are clearly marked Gluten-free, Vegetarian, Vegan, and Paleo.
Chef/Proprietor Alec Schuler was born and raised in the suburbs of New York by immigrant European parents. As a teenager, Alec began bussing tables and became captivated by restaurants, the food industry, and the creativity that goes into preparing food. After graduating from CU Boulder, he again landed in the restaurant scene and the spark was re-kindled.
In his late 20’s Alec enrolled at Manhattan’s nutrition-oriented Natural Gourmet Institute and fell even more in love with inventing innovative dishes and putting flavors together. His extensive world travels have strongly influenced his outlook on world cuisines. After eating his way around the world for a few years, he found his culinary interests resonating most with the cuisine of Italy. Thanks to his half-Italian wife, Gabriella, and her extended family in Italy, some of their travels included many amazing Italian feasts. Thus, the seed of Arugula Restaurant was sown. After spending time in the kitchens of Boulder’s famed L’Atelier and Niwot’s Treppeda’s Italian Ristorante, chef Alec Schuler opened Arugula, his first Boulder restaurant.
Gabriella and Alec are proud and busy parents of four young sons. Alec is a graduate of CU Boulder (1995) and Manhattan’s Natural Gourmet Institute (2001). As an avid biker (and bike commuter), skier/boarder, mountain lover and qigong practitioner, he is mindful of the importance of a wholesome and healthy diet. His nutrition-oriented culinary training, culinary passions and lifestyle all come through on the innovative menus he creates at his award-winning restaurants – Arugula and Tangerine.
Executive Chef Sven Hedenas grew up in Stockholm, Sweden, where he studied art and music. In 1995 he came to Boulder, CO where his family owned the 14th Street Bar & Grill. Sven joined the family business learning the intricate details of running a restaurant and very busy kitchen. He spent 22 years as the executive chef at the 14th Street Bar & Grill, where he served the traditional American fare the restaurant was famous for, as well as the cuisine and wine inspired by his travels and extensive reading. French cooking is his first passion, but he also finds inspiration in modern and traditional cuisine from his native land of Sweden.
At Arugula, Sven manages the day-to-day kitchen operations. He works with local farms and purveyors to ensure fresh seasonal ingredients are used to carefully curate each menu. He uses his culinary creativity and inspiration from Boulder’s local farms to create a new menu for the restaurant twice per week.
When not cooking, he enjoys staying in shape, classical music, good wine and people.
General Manager & Wine Director Ari Karra
Originally from Greece, Ari came to the U.S. in 1998, fulfilling his dream of becoming part of the culinary community. During his early years he traveled extensively throughout Europe, working in Austria, Germany and Italy along the way. Inspired by the diversity that the European culture offered, he quickly learned the local languages, and adopted the philosophies and cultural values, giving him global perspective above and beyond his background in Greek culture.
Ari started working at a local restaurant on the beautiful island of Santorini, Greece in the early 90s, where he learned the ins and outs of the restaurant world. Soon after, he moved to Austria to study at the Culinary Art Institute in Innsbruck. There, he worked with some of the greatest cooks and Austrian sommeliers, fine tuning his culinary craft and wine knowledge. He spent time at Hotel Central, a five-star hotel in Solden, which specialized in cooking and fine dining service. His passion and knowledge for wine led him to study at ISG, where he graduated with a sommelier diploma.
After spending 10 years at L’Atelier in Boulder, Ari joined the Arugula team in 2012 as the General Manager. Here he manages the daily operations of the restaurant, taking the Arugula dining experience to the next level with his warm and friendly hospitality.
When not at work Ari loves running, biking and cooking with family and friends.
Arugula (Eruca sativa) has been eaten in the Mediterranean basin since Roman times, and was only recently domesticated. Known as Rucola or Rughetta in Italian, its medicinal properties were highly regarded in ancient times, including those of an aphrodisiac. Arugula was repeatedly mentioned for its medicinal properties in Pliny the Elder’s Natural History, circa AD 77. The rich, zesty and slightly sweet flavor combined with its long history and healthy attributes symbolizes our restaurant.
About the artwork
It all started many years ago at a corkscrew museum in Menerbes, Provence. Alec became enthralled with antique corkscrews and began collecting them, with the idea to display them at his imaginary restaurant in his mind. After several years of collecting them (and other antique food and wine implements) the imaginary restaurant became Arugula! Rather than displaying them in a museum format he wanted something with more style. Along with the help of his father and Longmont artist Javan M. Stackley, who constructed all the pieces, the idea was born to display them artistically with barrel hoops as frames. And what to do with all the random implements and left over corkscrews? We created the large monochrome sculptures using Louise Nevelson as our inspiration – an homage to this wonderful 20th century artist.
The chalk artist is Bryce Widom and he’s awesome !