Goin' Tuscan

With a little luck, Ballard is about to get the boot in the britches it needs to become a destination dining neighborhood. By mid-month Don Curtiss, who kicked Italian cuisine up a notch at Andaluca and later at Prego, is bidding the hotel-restaurant game goodbye and striking out on his own at Volterra. Housed in what once was Burk's Cajun-Creole across from the Bell Tower on Ballard Avenue Northwest, the place is named for the ancient Etruscan city where Curtiss and Michelle Quisenberry married during a seven-month saturation visit to Italy. The food? For Etruscan read "Tuscan." Curtiss picked up a lot of ideas about "contemporary Italian dinner and drinks" in the home of fine Italian cuisine, and even picked up some of the Tuscan obsession with fresh and organic ingredients. The housemade pasta, for instance, will by whipped up with organic eggs only, and moistened by acqua panna (authentic Tuscan water bottled by the San Pellegrino people). Curtiss doesn't want to preview his spring menu until he's sure the ingredients he wants (like morels) are available. Right now his main concern is the furniture, imported from Italy, which is somewhere in transit between New York and Seattle. Answered prayers? "There's a bigger purpose to it." That's Bill Goldberg, co-owner of Bellevue's soon-to-open Goldbergs' Famous Delicatessen (3924 Factoria Blvd. S.E., 425-641-6622), rhapsodizing on the prospect of meats and other deli fare that—gasp!—actually originate on the East Coast. "I think that what hasn't worked in previous [Seattle] delis is that people have tried to get as close as they could using local suppliers, and it's not a good idea," he told Hot Dish. So Bill, a Michigan-born real-estate attorney who's lived in Seattle for 25 years, hooked up with his old college pal, Steve Goldberg (no relation), who owns the Goldberg's Famous Stage Deli chain in Detroit. In order to avoid the misstep of staying local, the Goldbergs have made the necessary arrangements in advance of their May 3 opening. "We are anticipating bringing a truck a week out from Detroit," said Bill. "We're bringing most of our corned beef and pastrami and pickles . . . lots of the stuff that [Steve] currently gets from New York." This promises to be really good news for Seattle deli fans pining for something that at least approximates the kind of sandwiches, soups, and salads available at N.Y.C. standbys like Sarge's and the Carnegie. Steve's Detroit-area Stage delis, with their hanging salamis, severely overstuffed sandwiches named after Broadway shows, and utterly authentic matzo-ball soup, latkes, and sour and half-sour pickles, are proud propagators of Jewish culinary tradition. Seattle deli fans, having already demonstrated a kind of patience that rivals that of Job, have reason to be optimistic. After all, Bill is. "My challenge to Steve was to re-create the Stage in Seattle," he said. "To create the same menu, and the same ambiance . . . and, if possible, make it even better." Coffee the Colombian Way Ready for more caffeine variety than the local Seattle coffee scene is offering? We have some international experts coming our way. Last week, the first West Coast Juan Valdez Cafe opened on Fifth Avenue (north of the Red Lion entrance). Like the other Juan Valdez Cafes, it is owned and operated by the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia, which represents 560,000 coffee growers. So though "Juan Valdez," the man whose image made Colombian coffee, was fired years ago, Juan Valdez the logo (donkey close by his side) marches on. Food and/or beverage news? E-mail Hot Dish at food@seattleweekly.com.

 
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