The moment I arrived at Spinasse (pronounced speh-nah-say), in the gastronomically-gifted Capitol Hill area of Seattle, I was in love. On the street level of this handsome, multi-storied brick building, an intimate spot welcomes us with charming outdoor seating consisting of wooden plank tables, surrounded by a whimsy of colorful chairs. An old-world iron sign hangs above the quaint entrance door, of which the window is tastefully etched “Cascina Spinasse.”
A peek through the glass is like looking into a rustic Italian farmhouse. Wooden trestle tables with knotty imperfections imply generations of celebrations with suppers and wine that had been consumed around them. Soft and delicate ivory lace curtains grace the front windows, wrought-iron chandeliers illuminate the cozy space, and mismatched wood and marble countertops suggest a sense of history and soul. Any more rustic, and I’d have arrived by wagon.
We sit in a cozy corner table next to the window, but this isn’t a quiet dinner spot at the 8 o’clock hour by any means. Conversations just inches away give the entire space a comforable, convivial vibe.
I knew that Spinasse was one of those places that is hotly acclaimed by fervent foodies. It’s easy to understand why, with robust platters of pan-roasted rib eye with plums and spring onions, lovage and balsamic, to a light arugula, fennel, prosciutto cotto and green bean salad with cherry tomatoes and fennel maioneses – everything is lovingly prepared, oiled, and seasoned.
The pasta is capable of achieving density and delicacy at the same time, in the fine hand cut egg pasta (tamarin) with butter sage – a classic Spinasse dish – or hearty cavatelli with beef short rib and shoulder ragu with marinated cherry tomatoes and parmigiana. Everything is a masterpiece that pays homage to northern Italian region of Piemonte (Piedmont), under the creative and passionate direction of Executive Chef Stuart Lane.
Lane attended the Italian Culinary Institute in a castle in Piemonte at Costigliole d’Asti. He later staged at the Hotel Monte del Re in Dozza Italy outside of Bologna in the heart of Emilia-Romagna. While there, he crafted tortellini by the thousands and was immersed in the Italian food culture. Today, Lane oversees the menus at Spinasse and the adjacent casual Italian eatery and bar, Artusi. He is passionate about Piemonte, and you can taste it in the food and in the wine.
Overall, the experience is one to remember. The interior is charming and picturesque, with the kitchen-view dining as a portrait in craft, as well as a warm welcome to this old world space. Spinasse is one of Seattle’s most delicious places. I can’t wait to go back.