Branzino New Chef

Does a new chef and menu signal a comeback for Branzino? Photo courtesy branzinoseattle.com.

Belltown’s Branzino opened several years ago to plaudits and accolades from local food folk. The appearance of the restaurant’s executive cook, Ashley Merriman, on Top Chef kept the buzz coming for awhile thereafter, then the spot sort of fell out of conversation. But Branzino’s most recent hire believes the restaurant is about to get its second wind.

“It’s kind of like we’re hitting the reset button,” says Garrett Michael Brown, new executive chef. “We’re poised to make a comeback and hit it again.”

Brown started the day after Christmas but only recently revealed the transition. Before settling at Branzino, Brown engaged in a bit of kitchen hopscotch following the closure of Verve, where he spent five years: for a few short months he was at Oddfellows, then took an even shorter stint at Terra Plata.

With the addition of Brown has come a slew of changes. All the pasta is now made in-house, for example, and the kitchen is aging and curing meats. The menu rotates weekly, and is far more rooted in local ingredients. Brown describes the focus as “Northwest based in Italian.”

So, anybody been lately? What’d you think?