Page 162

Signature Dish Italia Trattoria

Italia Trattoria’s by Cara Strickland photo by Luke Davis

“It started as a special,”

says Bethe Bowman, one of Italia Trattoria’s owners, gesturing to the hot Miss Piggy sandwich ($11) in front of me. “We all tried it, and it was so wonderful that I begged Anna to put it on the menu.” Anna Vogel, the other half of the winning team behind Italia Trattoria, was a little concerned about the choice of name. “I keep seeing Miss Piggy tossing her blonde hair,” she says. The name doesn’t seem to have bothered any of the regulars, who ask for Miss Piggy by name. “We like to yell it out in the kitchen,” says Bethe. “She’s a little like our mascot.” Besides the cute and clever name, Miss Piggy is substantially delicious. Anna starts with pork shoulder: seared, braised for eight hours with a mirepoix, and crisped with caramelized onions and seasoned for optimum juiciness and flavor. This is not your average pulled pork. In addition to a generous portion of meat (suitable for even the heartiest appetite), there is a thin slice of ham, extra caramelized onions, melted mozzarella cheese, tomato and arugula on a soft bun. 162 • June • 2014

One bite into the sandwich, I knew that this would not be a meal for sharing. The pork is tender and rich in flavor, reminding me of the most skillfully prepared roasts I’ve enjoyed. The flavors are delicious on their own, but together they create an experience. With four years to their credit, Bethe, Anna and their crew have had time to get to know their neighbors in the Browne’s Addition borough and turn them into friends. “We wanted to be in a neighborhood,” says Bethe. “There are two kinds of people in the restaurant business,” she says. “Those who want their own restaurant and those who don’t.” She looks around. “We are the former type.” Anna, Italia Trattoria’s chef, is from Switzerland. When I commented on her lovely accent (Swiss-French, inherited from her parents) she laughed. “I have to exercise it every day,” she said. “It’s hard to keep.” When Anna was growing up, Italy was a mere hour ride away. She first touched down in New York,

when she moved to the United States as part of her enjoyment of world travel. “I got very good exposure to great food,” she says of her time in New York. Eventually, Anna ended up in the thriving Seattle food scene, where she met Bethe. It was in Seattle that their mutual dreams of opening their own restaurant began to take shape. Bethe started her career with food at sixteen, working in fast food in Southern California. It wasn’t long before she fell in love with the restaurant industry. Culinary school and lots of practical experience in Seattle only made that desire stronger. Although both Anna and Bethe come from far away places, they were intentional in their choice of Spokane. As avid skiers, they came through from time to time. One of those times, the potential of the restaurant scene caught their eye. “It reminded me of the way Seattle was 25 years ago,” says Bethe. She and Anna worked in restaurants in the area, getting a feel for the Spokane food culture. Italia Trattoria is the result of research, care and countless hours. “You have to put your print on the earth,” Bethe told me. “This is ours.”


Spokane Coeur d'Alene Living Magazine issue 105 Entertainment for the Inland Northwest.

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