At Seattle’s Spinasse, the Proof Is in the Pasta

Just like the attributes of its pasta, Seattle’s Spinasse is where luxury and comfort converge. And like the ethos of most restaurants in the Pacific Northwest, making the most of local, seasonal ingredients is a no-brainer.

“We have a lot of farms and dairies here, and we try to use as much of that produce and the fish and all of our game,” says Stuart Lane, Spinasse’s executive chef. “That is probably one of the biggest similarities of this scene — everyone’s trying to be as local and as farm-driven as possible. It’s so common that it’s almost overlooked; it’s a no-brainer that we all do that.”

Spinasse is a nearly 8-year-old restaurant that specializes in traditional Northern Italian cuisine. And Chef Lane seems to be a perfect fit, given his background.

“I went to culinary school at Bellingham Technical College and I kind of felt like I wanted more, or maybe needed a little bit more,” says Lane.

His hunger and curiosity for more led him to Italy, where he attended the Italian Culinary Institute for Foreigners. “It was really influential,” he says. “It was also the food culture — just the way they [Italians] go about thinking about food in general really stuck with me.”

When Lane came back to the U.S., he needed a job and had two Seattle-based Italian restaurants in mind. He ended up getting hired at Cafe Juanita under Holly Smith, who specializes in Northern Italian cuisine. He worked his way up at Cafe Juanita, later becoming chef de cuisine.

But, like many professionals in any industry, Chef Lane’s career path was not a perfectly smooth uphill climb. After Cafe Juanita, he took another job at a local restaurant before landing at Spinasse. However, he then landed an executive chef opportunity for a Chef Tom Douglas restaurant, which he accepted, but in the end, wound up going back to Spinasse.

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In this “Table 42” vignette, Chef Lane dishes on the Seattle culinary scene and takes us into the kitchen to whip up one of his favorite dishes on the menu, Agnolotti dal Plin. 

“It is a very meaty ravioli,” says Lane. “…this is a very rich…indulgent dish.” Most of the dishes at Spinasse are pretty rich and have a broad appeal to many different types of guests, he adds.

Chef Lane starts with dough made of egg yolk and flour that’s imported from Italy. The filling is comprised of seared veal, pork, and beef shoulders with a bit of kale, rice, onion, celery, carrot, and garlic added in. The filling is evenly dolloped on one end of the dough before it’s sealed and braised in broth for about two-and-a-half hours. From there, it’s pureed, complimented with a touch of Parmesan, a touch of vinegar, and a bit of cheese. Then, he gets the sauce going, in which the pasta is finished cooking with the addition of marjoram.

“We want to be the type of restaurant where you feel like you can come in and just get a bowl of pasta and enjoy,” says Lane. “Or, if you’re coming in on your wedding anniversary and it’s a very meaningful moment in your life, that we can offer that to you and give you a great experience.”

No matter your style, for Spinasse, the proof is in the pasta.