Friday, October 14, 2011


Opened next door to his primary restaurant Spinasse, chef Jason Stratton's new apertivo bar Artusi debuted this summer, within a month of Spinasse's new dining room and kitchen expansion. While Artusi and Spinasse are linked together by a large passageway (and Artusi uses Spinasse's kitchen for prep cooking) the two have very distinct and separate personalities, both in food and decor. Artusi counters Spinasse's warm rustic dining with a very modern interior and a diverse and playful menu.

Artusi is named for Pellegrino Artusi,
author of La Scienza in cucina e l’arte di mangiare bene (The Science of Cooking and the Art of Eating Well) in 1891; a cookbook intended for middle-class families that gathered recipes from across Italy and essentially defined an Italian national cuisine for the first time. While Spinasse holds its focus on the Piedmont region of Italy, Artusi, much like its namesake, explores cuisine from across Italy and recipes spanning from medieval to the present.

I went in a small group and shared all our dishes (except the soup, I always feel soup is too awkward to share), which I think is an ideal way to try out the menu. And a majority of the menu is set up as share-plate sized appetizers, but I know moving into Fall/Winter that they are intending to offer a wider array of entree-sized dishes as well. They have a great and interesting cocktail list (something like a dozen different gins!) as well as quite a few great wines by the glass/pitcher/bottle.

*Disclaimer: these photos and dishes are from their
(late July) summer menu. A few things are similar or the same, but most have been changing steadily as ingredients come in and out of season.

semolina wafer w/fresh ricotta

fried capers

warm Quadrello di bufala with raw tremiti olives & hazelnut oil

shaved white mushroom & egg w/salsa "Apicius"
bread soup w/clams & lovagestewed morel mushrooms w/celery & parsley
house-cured trout w/pickled horseradish & crispy trout skin

I find the menu at Artusi is a bit harder to wrap one's head around; the dishes are quite diverse and, I think, take more risks in combinations of flavors and textures than what one would be accustomed to from Spinasse. In this way, the food is exciting and unexpected which, as a dining experience, I love, even if some of the dishes themselves I may only merely 'like'. I think the menu at Artusi is chef Stratton's opportunity to challenge himself toward crafting a new culinary identity in Spinasse's shadow, and invites diners to follow along (with a hint of challenging us to keep up).

Artusi (14th & Pine, Seattle)

- jordan

supermouthhappy Web Developer

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