Moving an 8-year-old biga — a fermented dough starter — across Tacoma’s Sixth Avenue was like walking a kid across a busy intersection. The caregivers moved carefully and hoped nobody lost their footing at the wrong moment.
For years, that biga has been a bubbling mass of yeasty dough, a continually fed entity living in the walk-in refrigerator at Primo Grill, which opened on Sixth Avenue in 1999.
The restaurant’s owners — husband-wife duo Charlie McManus and Jacqueline Plattner — joke that the biga’s practically become a staff member. Its job is to form the base of Primo’s pizza dough, known for its tangy complexity.
Last week, that vat of biga — and the restaurant itself — relocated a few blocks away to its new home at Sixth Avenue and Oakes Street in a building owned by McManus and Plattner, who also own another restaurant in that building, Crown Bar (they opened that restaurant in 2007).
The biga’s daily feeding — and subsequent move — by two chefs was symbolic of the meticulous legwork that McManus and Plattner put into their relocation. It’s been more than a year in the making. Detailed planning meant the restaurant’s closure was brief. It closed after dinner service July 26 and reopened Aug. 8.
Much of the restaurant will appear familiar to those who knew Primo Grill — all the way down to the restaurant’s signature yeasty pizza dough. The menu continues to cover a broad swath of the Mediterranean region — from Italy to Morocco. The menu, too, covers broad territory in its scope, from shareable appetizers and pizza pies to handmade pasta dishes and heartier surf-and-turf entrees.
Decor changes and a new kitchen have injected Primo Grill with a different energy. The decor shifted from a restaurant outfitted in vibrant tones and Tuscan hues to a more muted palette that the owners call “Northwest modern.” Reclaimed wood covers tabletops and floors. Rustic iron frames the dining room. Oversized windows roll up garage-door style, giving diners an al fresco experience without leaving the restaurant. The restaurant’s signature open kitchen is still there and so are the staff members from the previous location.
Take a look here at a few changes — and similarities — for the new Primo Grill, now serving dinner daily.