This week, in celebration of the James Beard Foundation finally honoring Tom Douglas as the nation's most outstanding restaurateur, we're working our way through the Douglas portion of our favorite dishes list.
If everything's id upstairs at Brave Horse Tavern, a noisy beerhall where it can be tough to nab a spot at the shuffleboard table, Cuoco is the super-ego of the three-restaurant development Douglas last year opened in South Lake Union. Cuoco serves serious food, such as housemade agnolotti stuffed with rabbit meat and marjoram butter.
But the dish that many Cucoco fans consider the show-stopper is a dish that's now often consigned to potlucks and frozen food cases: Lasagna.
This is not the lasagna that well-meaning churchgoers bake when a fellow congregrant breaks her hip, or the lasagna that parents whip up when forced to entertain their daughter's soccer team. Cuoco's lasagna is a rich tapestry of tissue-thin noodles; thick bechamel sauce; brawny bolognese sauce and delicate wisps of nutty Parmesan cheese.
And while most cooks draw the line at three or four layers of meat, sauce and cheese, Cuoco's kitchen has built a dish with enough strata to intrigue a geologist. The block of lasagna, served with its edges crisped to a glorious gold, has seven layers. Lasagna may be a frivolous matter elsewhere, but - as each layer makes clear - Cuoco isn't playing around.