Former chefs Chefs Dan O'Leary, left, and Jim Vande
Berg at Altezzo Ristorante, in 2001.
Altezzo Ristorante, the 26th-floor view restaurant in Tacoma's tallest downtown hotel, will cease operation in early March, as the former Sheraton Hotel completes its makeover as Hotel Murano.
Altezzo and its adjacent Vertigo lounge (whose combined views span Mount Rainier, the Tacoma Dome, the 509 bridge, the Port of Tacoma, the Foss Waterway and downtown Tacoma), will be used for private events, Murano food and beverage director Dan O'Leary said.
All of Hotel Murano's public dining (and room-service) will be moved to the fourth floor, where the Sheraton formerly served casual breakfast and lunch. The new fourth-floor restaurant is called The Bite. It'll serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.
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O'Leary said The Bite's menu isn't finalized but described it as "comfort food with a twist." That means "bacon and eggs, plus more unique offerings," along with "an upscale burger," "nice seafood," and "artful salad entrees." Expect mid-range prices, with a few higher-end dishes.
O'Leary, who was Altezzo's executive chef for seven years beginning in 1999, said the decision to close the Italian-themed restaurant was based on "streamlining operations." He said the majority of the hotel's food operations (including receiving and storage) are on the fourth-floor. He said none of his 35 employees will lose their jobs as a result of Altezzo's closure.
O'Leary said The Bite will open "in the second week of March," following a $500-per-person hotel launch party March 8.
O'Leary said The Bite's design mirrors the hotel's: "stripped down and upscale." A counter will serve double-duty: seating for solo diners for breakfast and lunch, and as a liquor bar in the evenings.
What will downtown Tacoma diners do for a view? The Tacoma Club (on the 16th floor of the Wells Fargo Building, with views of downtown and Commencement Bay) no longer welcomes non-members. Is the balcony outside the Courtyard Mariott's bar (two floors above Pacific Avenue, with a view toward Mount Rainier) all we've got?
Charlie McManus, the chef/owner of Primo Grill and Crown Bar in Tacoma, was the opening chef at Altezzo in 1993.
"I loved the view from the restaurant," McManus said. "Sunsets on the mountain were quite spectacular and sometimes if there was fog in the city the restaurant would seem like an island in the sky. The railings outside the bar made a great perch for a peregrine falcon which sometimes snacked on a pigeon outside the window -- not wholly appreciated by some of the customers, but seeing the falcon swoop down on Thea Foss from Altezzo was one of the highlights of my experience there.
"Diners loved the view, the high ceilings and the food and they were dedicated because going to Altezzo, downtown with parking and elevators, was tough."
The view aside, McManus said, "The hotel made the right call to close Altezzo."
"Trying to get butts in seats on the 26th floor of a hotel is hard, especially in a smaller market like Tacoma," McManus said. "Taking an elevator to a restaurant kills the ambiance somewhat. Rooftop restaurants become special occasion restaurants or tourist destinations and without a truly significant tourist base and with other view restaurants in Tacoma, Altezzo or a like restaurant is a hard sell.
"I had a great experience overall working at the Sheraton but it cemented in my mind that for my own place I would always want a neighborhood place, easy access with ground floor entrance."
For those seeking ground-floor amenities at Hotel Murano, there's a bar in the lobby.
If you want to grab a bite and a view at Altezzo, the 26th-floor restaurant is serving breakfast, lunch and dinner daily until its demise.
Altezzo Ristorante: 1320 Broadway, 26th Floor, Tacoma; 253-591-4155