A new Italian restaurant and a high-end restaurant featuring oft-overlooked proteins are opening this summer. Interesting things are happening to the South Sound dining scene. Take a look:
Get ready for Marrow. The fine-dining restaurant with a focus on unusual proteins and craft cocktails is aiming for a July opening on Sixth Avenue.
Here’s reason to be interested: It’s backed by Jaime Kay and Jason Jones, co-owners of Top of Tacoma, and Kyle Wnuk, chef at Dirty Oscar’s Annex on Sixth Avenue. (I wrote about the burgers at Dirty Oscar’s last week.)
Marrow will occupy the space recently vacated by Beyond the Bridge Café. The short-lived cafe was one of a gaggle of coffeehouses on Sixth. The addition of Marrow will bring two things Sixth Avenue and Tacoma need: fine vegetarian dining and a restaurant that emphasizes often-overlooked proteins in a restaurant setting. Duck, goat and ostrich, anyone?
The restaurant is largely conceptual at this point and its creators are developing the menu now. I spoke with Jaime Kay Jones by phone recently and here’s how she described Marrow: “Our Marrow menu will focus on less commonly encountered proteins – duck, goat, wild boar, ostrich/emu, meat that can be sourced locally and things people don’t get to try all the time.” The seasonally-focused menu will change four times a year.
But Marrow also will give diners a restaurant within a restaurant – the vegetarian-focused “Arrow” menu will offer a veg-friendly eating experience. Said Jones, “Our vegetarian entrees aren’t going to be an afterthought. We’ll cater to the vegetarian crowd by giving them nutritious and creative gourmet items.”
Here’s a sample Arrow menu item: Green lentils with mint and shallots, champagne creme fraiche, and pumpkin seed oil, topped with fried squash blossoms. Arrow will join Quickie Too and Caffe Dei in catering to local vegetarians, but with a fine-dining edge that long has been needed in the South Sound culinary landscape.
Expect to also find a menu of craft cocktails with emphasis on fresh herbs and Northwest distilled spirits (such as Dry Fly).
Jones and Wnuk will offer a range of prices and plate sizes. “We’ll be offering a lot of small-plate options, especially with wild proteins that people haven’t tried. They may not want to commit their whole meal to (something they’re not sure about).” Expect to see small-plate prices beginning at $6. Entrees will top out at $25.
The restaurant will be open for dinner only, at least to start. “We’re going to evolve to meet the demand,” said Jones. Tentative hours are set at 4 p.m.-2 a.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays. The restaurant will be for diners ages 21 and older only. There will be seating for about 50-60.
Wnuk is a Tacoma native and 1997 graduate of Washington High School. He graduated from the culinary program at Seattle Central Community College. He previously worked at Il Fiasco. Aaron Grissom, formerly of Gruv Lounge and Chambers Bay Grill, will take over in the Dirty Oscar’s kitchen when Wnuk departs for Marrow.
MASSIMO ITALIAN BAR & GRILL
Out with nautical, in with Italian. Goodbye mauve and blue, hello to a Tuscan palette.
Massimo Italian Bar & Grill will be the new tenant in the building that formerly housed Captain Nemo’s at 4020 Bridgeport Way in University Place. Massimo and Cindy Terracciano will open Massimo University Place, a family friendly Italian restaurant, around June 20.
They’ve been remodeling the building since April 1. For those who recall the ’80s decor of Captain Nemo’s, wipe that memory clean because the restaurant has been stripped and rebuilt.
“Everything’s going to be the color of Italy,” said Cindy Terracciano by phone. She described a Tuscan palette: warm tones in gold, sage and burgundy. The carpet has been replaced with polished concrete floors. And a newly rebuilt fireplace will warm up the front entry. You can follow the progress of the remodel on their website.
The 7,000-square-foot restaurant will seat 240, which is about 100 more diners than can fit in the Massimo restaurant in Purdy, which the Terraccianos opened in December 2008 after moving from their previous restaurant, Terracciano’s in Gig Harbor at 3119 Judson. (That restaurant now is Il Lucano.)
The story of Cindy and Massimo started more than 20 years ago in Naples. They met in Italy, and married in 1987. Cindy was a military kid, but wanted to move back to Tacoma where her family is from. They made a stop in Germany in 1997 to help run family restaurants, then landed in Tacoma in 1999. Massimo found work at Pomodoro and other local restaurants before opening Gig Harbor’s Terracciano’s.
Cindy and Massimo’s son Salvatore and his wife, Lindsey, who live in University Place, will help run the new restaurant. The menu and prices will duplicate those at the Purdy restaurant.
Sue Kidd: 253-597-8270, Sue.firstname.lastname@example.org