Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Long and Rich Italian Heritage

Renton has a long and rich Italian heritage and it would be hard to imagine old downtown without at least one Italian restaurant. My Mom (who was ironically of Swedish ancestry) was a master of Italian food in a contemporary style that was emerging in the Pacific Northwest in the late 1950's and early 60's.

Grandma Pauline was also a most fabulous cook of the old school, Northern Italy/Southern France (and a strong Belgium/English background for a twist). I call it awesome European peasant food! We weren't officially Italian (but the ties were close). We all shared a lineage of immigrants who came here to carve out a new life through labor.

Pauline's mom, our Great Grandma Celine Boulanger Longville married into the Delaurenti family (circa 1917) in the coal mining town of Newcastle, Washington. We knew all of the area families and every get together (and there were many) was a great reason for wonderful meals and live music.

Italians in those days really loved their accordions and my Dad, being one of the best, was always in high demand for any get together. He new all the old Italian songs. I remember a lot of dancing, singing, bocce, and lively conversation.

Armondo’s Cafe Italiano has changed a lot over the years. It started out in the mid 1980’s as a mostly pizza place. It’s been fun to watch a local boy like Armondo Pavone grow a successful business from such wonderful local traditions.

With the addition of Executive Chef Tom Small I see another new direction. It's a more local and seasonal menu that awakens in me those fond memories of wonderful meals  growing up. It doesn't pretend to be a particular regional Italian cuisine. Yet it's authentic Italian in spirit, concept, and philosophy.

I love the fact Armando's partners with local farmers, schools, the Renton Farmers Market, and Washington wine makers. I was in just recently for lunch and was very pleased and the service as always was very warm and friendly. I’m looking forward to dinner soon on the new Spring Menu.

Check out Tom’s new Chef’s Blog on the website. He’s posting recipes and there’s a teaser for the new cooking show they're developing.

[Update: Armondo's Cafe Italiano closed in June 2011.]

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