Just ask Jason Stratton. The 29 year old took over as executive chef at Cascina Spinasse three months ago when Seattle's premier pasta maker, Justin Niedermeyer, left.
"When I heard Justin was thinking about maybe transitioning out, it was just in the back of my mind that this is definitely an amazing place and I love the cuisine, so I came back."
Came back, as in returned to the restaurant he helped Justin open a year ago before going to work for Poppy (and a six-month sabatical in Spain). Jason says no worries, though -- pasta is still the focus at Spinasse.
"I worked at Cafe Juanita for five years and pasta is huge there."
Jason is also interested in having a more rotating, seasonal menu.
"My focus is just kind of shifting (things) a little bit more, keeping things new and exciting."
The intimate, sometimes raucus, trattoria on Capitol Hill serves up food inspired by Piedmonte -- the Northern Italian region known for Barolo and Barbaresco.
"So, a lot of the cuisine there is meant to go hand-in-hand with wine; a pretty simple cuisine just in terms of not very many ingredients on each plate."
And yes, it is pronounced spih-NAH-say.
"For awhile we heard 'Spinaci,' which is Italian for 'spinach,' which was funny. A lot of people still say 'Spinass' even when you correct them."
After stints at some of Seattle's best restaurants, Jason says he's cooking the food he loves.
"I love Italian food and this is where my heart has come to kind of rest. I'm really excited."
Places Jason likes to Go Eat!: Sitka & Spruce, Monsoon, Machiavelli.
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