After nearly two decades in the hospitality industry, Lauren Blumenthal knows the way a restaurant makes guests feel is as crucial as how good the food is. So for Sorella, the restaurant she opened in Kendall Yards this spring, Blumenthal envisioned a space that's chic and moody, but also relaxed and modern.
It's a setting that elegantly complements the traditional Italian fare served there. While an opulent color palette of deep teal and gold give Sorella a high-end feel, homier touches include a massive gallery wall and vintage silverware and dishes used for service. The restaurant's design was brought to life with the help of designer Deanna Goguen of Designology Luxury Interiors.
Crafting Sorella's menu was a collaboration between Blumenthal and executive chef Justin Klauba, whose resume includes Honey Eatery & Social Club in Coeur d'Alene. Klauba's fine-tuning resulted in a concise but varied collection of traditional appetizers courses — whipped ricotta, a salumi selection and bone marrow with black garlic — followed by salads, handmade pasta and protein-centric entrees. Among the eight different pasta dishes is an inky black nero, zesty limone and the spicy-as-you-like vodka sauce. Heartier entrees include osso buco, veal or chicken parmigiana, and a porterhouse steak that serves two.
Sorella's wine list includes more than 65 bottles, with the majority imported from Italy.
"Obviously there are amazing Washington and Oregon producers, but I wanted to stick to wines that I really like on a personal level, and I wanted to use it as an opportunity to introduce people around here to Italian wine," Blumenthal says.
With that in mind, she added a QR code on the wine list that diners can scan for personal recommendations.
Even though "a varietal may sound foreign to you, it's just like these other things that you may enjoy," she says. "Knowledge is power, and I just want people to learn, whether they're an employee or a guest."
MORE TO CHECK OUT
411 N. Nettleton Street
Previously the chef and owner of Park Lodge Restaurant, Philip Stanton has replaced the fine dining concept with his newest innovation, BRGR House. The new, more approachable eatery offers only burgers and fries, plus the obligatory beers and cocktails.
Far from limiting themselves, Stanton sees this as the perfect step for his team's passion for creativity and excellence, plus his neighborhood's love for quality and sustainability.
His chefs use an open flame Argentinian grill, fueled by apple and cherry wood. The menu design still relies on boxes of seasonal produce and minimally processed meats. Stanton grows his own herbs in a garden right off the patio, including a pineapple sage plant that's over five years old.
Thick classic burgers and small but mighty smash burgers are served with different combos of cheese, veggies and the house's secret "brgr sauce."
Stanton may have found the way to combine his passion and creativity with a relaxed, low-barrier experience. (ELIZA BILLINGHAM)
4241 Cheney Spokane Road
Susan Shelby, owner of Latah Bistro, Latah Latte, and Wine & Taps, now opens Shelby's Burgers, an authentic, retro smashburger dive. After two years of scouring LA for the best smashburger secrets, Shelby opened her roller-derby-chic diner on June 12, offering a sassy, saucy, fast-casual dining experience to Eagle Ridge and beyond.
The smash burgers are "laces-out," meaning the patty is so paper-thin that the lacey edges caramelize on the hot griddle.
In true diner fashion, Shelby's serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a few non-burger options for each, like eggs and bacon, plant-based "chicken" or hot dogs. T-shirts and stickers with edgy vintage vibes, like a 1950s housewife smeared with ketchup saying "Don't tell my husband," or a girl with a burger peeking out from her skirt stamped "Hot Buns," are also available for purchase. (ELIZA BILLINGHAM)
ZOZO'S SANDWICH HOUSE
2501 N. Monroe Street
While they love traveling to do things, Jen Hesseltine and her husband, Aaron, also love to travel to eat things, especially sandwiches. From Philadelphia's cheesesteaks and roast pork, to chicken cutlets in New York and the Chicago beef, delicious deli offerings have been some of the highlights of their trips. So it made sense to emulate that style when they opened Zozo's Sandwich House (named for their dog, Zoey) in the old Azars building on Monroe this spring. "We knew there was a niche for it," Hesseltine says.
They roast some of their own meats, including the beef for their signature Monroe St. Dip and the Zozo's Cheesesteak, which also features house-made cheese whiz. Staff also hand bread every pork and chicken cutlet, while the other premium meats and cheeses come from Boar's Head. Most of Zozo's bread is baked locally by Yoke's, and the soups and sides are made fresh, including the popular dill pickle pasta salad, which features a creamy dressing with finely chopped pickles and chunks of cheddar. Open from 8 am to 3 pm, they recently added all-day breakfast options to the mix. (SAMANTHA WOHLFEIL)