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Gertie and the Giant Octopus — a kid’s book or new restaurant? Click and find out

Gertie and the Giant Octopus is right next to Galaxy Uptown Theater in Gig Harbor.
Gertie and the Giant Octopus is right next to Galaxy Uptown Theater in Gig Harbor. jbessex@gateline.com

Gertie and the Giant Octopus might conjure images of a children’s book, but it’s the name of a new restaurant in Gig Harbor.

If all goes as planned, executive chef Robert Mario DeLaura will open the 24-seat bistro in Uptown Gig Harbor within the next two weeks.

DeLaura got his start as a cook in the Navy and worked his way through sous and executive chef positions in Michigan (where he’s originally from), Seattle and Portland. He holds a culinary degree from the Western Culinary Institute and attended two formal cooking programs.

He previously owned the Nu Cafe in Portland, but he closed that in favor of restaurant consulting. He and his wife moved to the South Sound after realizing how saturated the Portland dining scene had become. DeLaura will act as executive chef and operating owner.

The space is intentionally small and he intends to keep service simple, serving only dinner. He’s unsure if he’ll open for lunch, but says he might if enough diners request that.

He flipped the decor from its former life as a pretty cupcake shop to a handsome bistro in earth tones against a striking black-and-white tile floor. Seating includes a dine-in counter and a banquette running along one wall.

The name came to him while he was developing the menu, which will focus on Mediterranean fare. The name naturally gives a nod to Gertie, the world-famous bridge that settled at the bottom of the Tacoma Narrows after a fateful collapse in 1940. The giant octopus harkens to the lore of the giant creatures living in the Narrows, and a cheeky reference his mother used to tease him.

“I was a very difficult child. I was kind of the creative thinker, left-brain thinker. I was going against the grain,” said DeLaura.

He trended adventurous for a kid diner.

“I wanted to try this, I wanted to try that. My mother told me, you would order an octopus burger if it was on the menu.” Eventually “octopus” became the family’s euphemism for DeLaura’s penchant for ordering the weirdest thing on the menu.

Will octopus show up on the menu? The opening menu features antipasto with Mediterranean octopus ($13), and DeLaura described occasional specials such as octopus carpaccio, bouillabaisse or grilled simply, Spanish style.

His cuisine covers broad Mediterranean territory, but with one theme: simple.

“The complexity is in its simplicity, its seasonality and freshness, not muddling the flavors,” said DeLaura.

He described a menu of about a dozen items for the opening menu. Entrees include braised lamb ragu with pappardelle pasta, feta and kalamata olives ($17). Petrale sole will be served with lemon-caper butter sauce, mashed potatoes and green beans almondine ($25). A T-bone steak will be dressed with olive oil and lemon, served medium rare ($27 for 16 ounces, $48 for 32 ounces).

Small plates include ciambotta ($10) and grilled dates ($8). A seafood selection includes grilled shrimp simply dressed with olive oil and garlic ($8 small/$14 large). Salads include endive, beet, hazelnut and blue cheese ($13) or a sliced apple salad with fennel, arugula, almonds and manchego in a sherry vinaigrette ($11).

Other specials in the future might include pan-roasted salmon in olive oil with a Sicilian lemon vinaigrette and fresh oregano. He described a seafood version of the Sicilian eggplant dish, caponota.

The menu will list a wide range of wine by the glass or bottle, local beers and a selection of bottled sodas and kombucha.

Gertie and the Giant Octopus

Where: 4747 Point Fosdick Dr. NW, Gig Harbor; 253-649-0921; facebook.com/RobertMarioDeLaura.

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