Maybe it's the full moon of the autumnal solstice, we're not sure. There have been all kinds of restaurant openings, remodels, and returns lately.
On the slopes of the Italian hilltown that is Harbor Steps, Matt Janke and his business partner, Jill Buchanan, have opened Lecosho. Janke's been working on the concept and location since he sold his eponymous bistro, Matt's in the Market, to Dan Bugge. Lecosho, the Chinook word for swine, takes over the former Koji Osakaya space at 89 University St. (Come to think of it, Lecosho also sounds like "le cochon," French for "the pig.") House-made charcuterie and a wide range of seafood items are on the menu.
A familiar face resurfaces: David Nelson, the gentleman bartender from Marjorie's who became the opening general manager for Spur and Tavern Law, returns downtown to manage the cocktail program at Il Bistro. Among his very first guests: Murray Stenson, America's reigning Bartender of the Year, whose Zig Zag Café was just named America's best cocktail lounge by GQ magazine.
And then there's the reopening of First Hill's historic upscale dive bar, Vito's. The new owners are Jeff Scott and Greg Lundgren, whose Hideout is just around the corner. The chef is Michael Bruno, who used to cook at Tango, just down the street.
It's doubtful that you'll see cops and politicians sitting in the black leather booths in the middle of the day (or middle of the night, for that matter), but the bartenders are on track with trendy cocktails, the famous nekkid-lady mural in the dining room been dusted off, and the clientele boozing it up, on early visits, is appropriately hip and retro glam.
The Local Vine has opened at the Trace Lofts on Capitol Hill's 12th Avenue, across the little patio from Barrio, with over 80 wines by the glass and a real chef in the kitchen. He's Andy Dekle, recruited from the Ruins supper club, where he'd been exec chef for the past three years. TLV got kicked out of its original space in Belltown this summer, but they'd already been planning an expansion to Capitol Hill. As before, the menu is wine-friendly, with a dozen "Little Somethings" priced under $10.
The former La Mondellina deli in Magnolia Village has become a pizza parlor, Queen Margherita, complete with Fellini-esque decor (by Sandra Tanzi), who recycled a Capitol Hill archway, assorted turn-of-the-century light fixtures from Chicago, and chairs from Belltown's Marjorie, then placed a statuette of the Madonna atop the authentic Neapolitan pizza oven. Same ownership as Mondello's, a couple of blocks away.
And finally, the first legal distillery in Seattle since Repeal: it's called Sound Spirits, and it's the dream of Boeing engineer Steven Stone. The first release is a craft vodka called Ebb+Flow, an unfiltered, single-malt vodka made from Washington barley. Rather than a bland, iceberg lettuce of spirits, Ebb+Flow has a floral nose and sweet, multilayered flavors. Coming soon: gin and more. You can legally buy two 750-ml bottles of the vodka at the distillery, $31 apiece. Location is 1630 15th Ave. W. in the Interbay area.