Bar Cotto (1546 15th Ave.; 206.838.8081; ethanstowellrestaurants.com) is the latest outpost in Ethan Stowell’s growing culinary empire (Tavolàta, How to Cook a Wolf, Staple & Fancy, Rione XIII, Anchovies & Olives). Its snug confines are a tasty paean to Italian cured meats and other treats inspired by “the boot.”
Mood Lighting and Amaro
Next door to (and sharing bathrooms with) Anchovies & Olives, Bar Cotto has a more intimate and sparse atmosphere, with urbane metal tables and bar, candles and the now-inescapable dim Edison lightbulbs. While the wine list is manageable and full of interesting Italian choices and a few choice Northwest numbers, start with one of the cocktails that highlight an Italian amaro (the herbal digestif Italians adore). A delicious example is the Old Loathsome Bastard ($11), with Old Overholt rye and Averna amaro aged in oak casks and combined with the beautiful saffron-hued Italian liqueur Strega, Pür blood orange liqueur and peach bitters. Its depth and interlaced layers of herbal, bitter and orange accents coalesce to serve as an ideal start to a meal.
The open kitchen is highlighted by a white-tiled pizza oven and a shining red, commercial meat slicer. There’s also a chalkboard listing the more than 15 Italian salumi available ($7 each, three for $18, five for $25), including treasures such as mortadella and speck. I suggest getting the torta fritta ($3) with the meat—they’re hot little bread puffs you wrap the sliced salumi around, making a scrumptious meat doughnut of sorts. The menu also features vegetable delights (the escarole with hazelnuts, $8, is a crisp pick) and an array of pizzas, including a woodsy Funghi ($15) with roasted mushrooms, fior di latte, thyme and truffle oil.