Go Eat! Cantinetta

Go Eat! Cantinetta
Polpatoni dish from Cantinetta
SEATTLE -- It was a classic case of online matchmaking that brought chef Brian Cartenuto to Seattle.

"I found an ad on Craigslist for a chef for a brand new restaurant focusing on 100-percent handmade pastas," says Cartenuto.

The new restaurant in question was Cantinetta - a charming Tuscan-inspired eatery that opened in Wallingford this past January. With no other restaurants in a three-block radius, the place is a culinary beacon for neighbors:

"We say 'hi', they come say 'hi' to me, they bring their kids in and say, 'Brian, they want carbonara today,' and even though it's not on the menu we'll make it for them because, you know, we are a family restaurant; bring your kids in, bring your family in. Also, have a romantic dinner here. (Cantinetta) is kind of cozy, it kind of fits all genres of what you're looking for."

Before Brian took the job as Cantinetta's executive chef, the 28-year old helped his folks with their small catering business in Florida, worked for Anthony Bourdain at Les Halles, and most recently cooked on a small cruise ship sailing through Central and South America.

"Being on the East Coast you can get whatever you want whenever you want it, especially if you're in one of the major cities. Here in Seattle you can do the same thing, but it's all local, it's all seasonal, you know the farmers who bring it to you."

Locally-sourced seafood, meats and pastas are Brian's specialties at Cantinetta.

"The Italian cuisine has definitely evolved into something more than just chicken parmesan or lasagna. Don't get me wrong, I love my mother's lasagna and I will never turn it down, but you will also never see me make it here."

What he will make are dishes like prosciutto wrapped squash, halibut with Swiss chard and leeks...and pretty much any type of hand-made pasta your craving.

"This is my first real time helming an Italian kitchen. I've only done French cuisine before here, so I bring a lot of French-inspired or Mediterranean-inspired recipes."

It's just one case he makes for why you should never give up on going out to dinner even when times are tough.

"It's great that you can learn to cook at home, read a magazine and see a new article and learn to try these things, but also go out for your sanity, have a good meal, run into neighbors. Here at Cantinetta, nothing is over $18. You still walk out feeling satisfied and, you know, save your sanity and not feel like you have to have Campbell's soup again."

What's next for Cartenuto at Cantinetta?

"My next goal is to see what happens. I'm going to hopefully be a permanent fixture here in Seattle. I'm not going anywhere."

Places Brian likes to Go Eat!: Sea Garden, Harvest Vine, Pacific Inn Pub, Chiso, Roxy's Diner.

For more information: www.cantinettaseattle.com