It seemed out of character when, in January, chef Scott Carsberg closed his revered fine-dining destination, Lampreia, after 18 years. Even more of a shocker: He reopened the same corner space just a month later, serving his version of an Italian cicchetti-style (small-plates) menu. Gone (and, if you ask me, not missed) are the hushed air and the pressed linen.
Now, a dramatic, curving, wooden bar sweeps through the space; concrete floors, an open kitchen and a drop-in-only policy (groups of six or more are the exception) keep things populist; brilliant blasts of color draw the eye. It’s effortless yet plenty sophisticated. Carsberg’s careful sourcing and pinpoint precision are alive and well. Utterly perfect baby vegetables arranged onto a short wooden skewer beside a tender artichoke ($9) filled with Robiolina cheese and then smoked: brilliant.
Risotto ($11) is a study in flavor, texture and technique—another way of saying Carsberg’s is silky, toothsome perfection. Lamb chops ($5 each) are sensational; during my two visits, I ordered one, and then ordered another. Not only are dishes gorgeously arranged, but the aromas are breathtaking, especially a thin slice of pecorino melted onto a cedar block and drizzled with truffle honey ($10). Service is attentive, quick and thoroughly informed, and the wine list is smart as ever, but affordable. Turns out things haven’t changed all that much, except maybe the price of the meal.
Dinner Tue–Sun. Belltown, 2400 First Ave.; 206.443.3301; bisato.com. $$. Wheelchair, full bar.