I enter the front gate of Hannah's Garden Inn and follow the lawn around to the back garden. Small black metal bistro tables sit scattered on the patio and amid the lush plantings of perennials. Tucked in under the balcony, the lower patio opens into a cool garden room with a chalkboard menu. I place my order then sit at my favorite table -- in dappled shade, next to the waterfall and the basalt rock garden. A tiger swallowtail butterfly lands on the pink blossoms nearby. A smiling server soon delivers my sandwich. For a moment, I get a respite from my hectic world, surrounded by beauty.
Owners Shawn Nichols and Ann Marie Byrd bought the 1908 Cutter and Malmgren mansion on the lower South Hill in 1999 and slowly remade it into an event facility and B & amp;B. They opened up Delaney's Musicaf & eacute; for dining and entertainment in 2005, and now that the gardens, balconies and patios are complete, they've opened up the gardens for casual lunches.
The chalkboard menu offers a selection of organic salads and sandwich combos ($5.50-$7.50) plus beverages, including beer and wine. The full luncheon menu is still available inside Delaney's dining room.
A recent guest told Nichols that entering the property is a Wizard of Oz experience -- the journey starts in black and white and then open into glorious full color. "We really are an oasis surrounded by an asphalt desert," he notes.
-- ANN M. COLFORD
Delaney's at Hannah's Garden Inn, 820 W. 7th Ave., is open for lunch Tue-Fri from 11 am. Dinner is served Wed-Fri. Call 747-6235.
DINING A Little TLC
Everyone likes personalized attention, especially when dining out -- wait staff who know you by name, your favorite dish or preferred table. It's not something you find at many restaurants. But VILLAGGIO PIZZA, WINE, MARTINIS is different. Even after the first week of opening, owner Steve Seddon greets customers by name and escorts them to their table of choice.
Villaggio's comfortable, Continental atmosphere sports contemporary d & eacute;cor with amber walls and contrasting brick, granite bar and covered patio with bright red umbrellas -- all set to smooth jazz.
"We have pizza like you'd get in Naples," Seddon proclaims. "I pride myself on purity and freshness of ingredients and my technique of making pizza."
Seddon has spent time in Naples and trained with a northern Italian chef in Los Angeles. He gets his pizza flour from Naples, uses imported water-buffalo mozzarella, hand forms the dough on Carrera marble and bakes the pies in a high-temperature brick oven. And the pizza doesn't look like your average pie: It's irregular, slightly smaller and bubbly as you'd expect a naturally leavened dough to be.
Villaggio's starters include the antipasti Villaggio ($10), perfect with a glass of wine. The Genoa salami, proscuitto di Parma, dolce ricotta, kalamata olives, shaved Romano, house-pickled mushrooms, roasted red peppers, artichokes, fresh figs and mozzarella is a wonderful m & eacute;lange of flavors, textures and colors. The Villaggio insalata features pears, caramelized onions and walnuts, fresh figs and Gorgonzola drizzled with house-made fig balsamic vinaigrette ($9).
Seddon says his signature pies are not to be found anywhere else in town ($13-$17). The regina margherita comes with red sauce, mozzarella and basil, while the PHT features pancetta, fresh herbs and tomato. Villaggio's panini are authentic as well -- oozing with cheese, veggies and herbs.
"It's one of the few places in town where you can get a pizza and a martini," one of Villaggio's servers says. Not to mention some TLC.
-- SUSAN HAMILTON
Villaggio Pizza, Wine, Martinis, at 2013 E. 29th Ave., is open Sun-Thu 3-10 pm, Fri-Sat 3 pm-midnight. Call 532-0327.
FOOD NEWS Small Bites
Last week we noted the arrival of Madeleine's on Main Ave., where the delectables and the sidewalk tables have drawn crowds. Next door, Spokane's newest PITA PIT location is now open, with sidewalk seating of its own. Suddenly the 700 block of West Main is a hub for the lunchtime hordes.
Ever since discovering the heavenly baked goods at CIELO BAKERY (1908 W. Northwest Blvd.), I've been a regular, checking back weekly to see what new tempting sweet things baker Erica Teague has cooked up. But I'll have to take a hiatus, because Erica and her family are closing the bakery July 8-23 for a family vacation.
I know they all work hard, arriving daily at 4:30 am to begin baking. But how am I going to score my fix of Amish oatmeal and peanut-butter-and-jelly bars?
I'll have my nose pressed against the window at 7 am on July 24 when they reopen.
-- ANN M. COLFORD??