The pandemic has made most of us hungry. We yearn for social contact, enrich experiences behind our front doors and great food without doing it ourselves. That’s why Storia Cucina should be your next goal! The new Italian restaurant on Bellingham’s Grand AvenueThe grounds, which used to be occupied by Michael’s books, have an entertaining, informal atmosphere combined with great food at reasonable prices.
Co-owner Jonathan Sutton left his San Francisco restaurant to return to his Pacific Northwest roots earlier this year and planned to open it Storia Cucina with chef Arlen Coiley on March 18th. The pandemic caused chaos when it opened, and it wasn’t until May that they were able to offer a to-go program.
Last week the restaurant was finally opened for indoor dining, with six tables inside and a couple on the sidewalk. The county is bustling with cool cocktails, fantastic pizzas and pastas and an all-round entertaining environment.
First, the space is really beautiful, with a nice bar, the seats of which are used as soon as the pandemic is over. A whimsical mural covers an entire wall, while large pictures of Sutton’s niece Olive – a toddler having a great time with pasta – adorn the opposite wall. An open kitchen in the back of the restaurant is illuminated by a large skylight and gives the restaurant a feeling of openness and transparency. Customers can also go next door A thousand acres of cider house for cider and Storias pizza.
“My goal was to offer the community something new and affordable with quality ingredients,” Sutton confided. “It’s something chefs struggle with nowadays when everyone wants things to be done faster and cheaper. My goal was to find great, yet affordable ingredients that we could use to prepare beautiful food. “
Sutton and Coiley obtain their flour from Cairn Springs Flour in the Skagit Valley and use it as the basis for their pizzas and pasta. Mozzarella comes from Ferndale Farms, meat from Carne Meats, fresh vegetables from Mama Bird Farms on the island of San Juan and seafood from Taylor Bay Shellfish. Sutton is particularly proud of his sourdough starter, which dates back to 1971 in San Francisco and has remained alive ever since. The yeast-free dough, made a day in advance so that it can rise slowly, results in a fantastic pizza with a thin crust that is soft and filling without feeling like a stone in the stomach later.
The menu is full of home-cooked food: plentiful tomato soup meatballs, focaccia, generous one-size-fits-all pizzas ($ 12 to $ 17), and cool pastas like pappardelle bolognese ($ 18), gnocchi with octopus ($ 22), and lumache Pomodoro ($ 14). All noodles are made in-house. Happy hour from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. includes a $ 3 Tigelle, an Italian street sandwich, a $ 10 Margherita pizza, and beer, wine, and other alcoholic discounts.
The chefs also offer free scarpetta. Italian for “little shoe”, the Scarpetta is a piece of bread with which you “wipe” additional sauce from your entree on your plate. It’s an Italian thing and a great way to enjoy the last piece of your meal!
We loved the marinated beets ($ 6) with pistachios and shaved radish and enjoyed the soft texture of the Margherita pizza made from San Marzano tomatoes. Our cacio e pepe, a Bucatini pasta with pecorino, was a testament to how great a simple dish can be when done well. The handmade Bucatini pasta is a hundred times better than any pizza bought in the shop and in its own category.
Turn the space of old Michael’s books into Storia Cucina was an effort built on friendship and trust. Sutton is an accomplished ceramist, whose beautiful, handmade candle votive pictures, milk jugs, cups and saucers are used by guests. His ceramic teacher Pinkney Templeton created the mural on the inner wall, while Coiley and his father took care of the carpentry.
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