I woke up hungry at 5:34 this morning, but instead of being annoyed by the Dark O’Clock beginning of my day, I replayed the sweet, sweet dream that stirred me from slumber. There was a pile of perfectly lovely pasta on my brain.
Since supping at a hosted, soft opening dinner earlier this week at Maria Hines’ brand new Agrodolce in Fremont, I had been thinking about the hand cut tagliarini.
The menu at chef Maria’s third restaurant, which opens today, is all about Southern Italy, starting with assorted antipasti (pork loin cured in house, those fried risotto balls otherwise known as arancini, Pugliese-style burrata served alongside baby beets dressed in a citrus-honey gastrique), following by four pasta options and five main plates (Fishing Vessel St. Jude's exceptional albacore, rabbit cacciatora, grilled Anderson Ranch lamb loin, a Northwest seafood stew and chicken breast served with caponata).
Dishes are described in spare prose, basically a list of ingredients, but what leapt off the page and embedded in my carb-crazy psyche was this verbage: "Pasta made with house-milled flour." Whoa! That’s taking the whole farm-to-table thing to a new level.
Hines, who’s laser-beam focused on sourcing quality organic ingredients, brings in hard Durham wheat from Purcell Mountain Farm in Moyie Springs, Idaho. (Pop quiz geography geeks: Where the heck is that? Head east on I-90 until you come to Coeur d’Alene and then hang a left. Stop before you hit the Canadian border.)
Agrodolce’s executive chef Jason Brzozowy and his crew have been playing around with ratios, combining Purcell Mountain Farms freshly milled flour with others to come up with the right consistency. Oh, and adding eggs from Skagit River Farms, too.
When you go to a soft opening, you’re really not supposed to judge, but still, judging by the pasta that showed up in a bowl divvyed up by me and my date, the kitchen nailed the right formula.
It was tender, yet toothsome. A simple preparation of chopped pistachios, sweet myrtle and pecorino let the pasta stand out as the star of the dish. It reminded me a little bit of the life-changing spaghetti I ate in Genoa, Italy, so many years ago. The pesto-adorned, conversation-stopping spaghetti pretty much ruined me for every pasta to come after.
I’m not trying to jack up expectations unrealistically here. The trick with pasta is to nail it consistently—like that trattoria in Genoa that had probably been making pasta for 100 years, or something like that—and that’s maddeningly difficult to do. But still, this impressive dish got me fired up enough to get back into Agrodolce, and soon.
Dinner and happy hour lounge daily. Fremont, 709 N 35th St.; 206.547.9707; agrodolcerestaurant.net