Image: Olivia Brent
The Overseer of Altura

I have made no secret of my professional crush on Altura, which I consider the best restaurant in Seattle at the moment. Triumphs like this pasta course are why.

Chef and owner Nathan Lockwood is a maestro of ragus and sugos: those juicy sauces of long-braised meats that simmer all day, deepening their intensity. This he does with duck, then enriches it further with a small dice of duck liver; the elevating, almost fruity addition of golden chanterelles; then sage for earthy aromatics.

The cavatelli, housemade and cooked just so, close their little hot-dog-bun flaps over the meaty bits of the astonishing sauce and provide exceptional chew. Lockwood knows that the small bits make all the difference in a sauce like this; that a tiny dice enables every flavor in every forkful. Long have I wished I could eat two bites of a Lockwood sauce, then close it up in a doggie bag for the next day’s even deeper flavors.

Yeah, right.

The bad news is that Lockwood changes up the menu every Friday, incorporating whatever’s freshest that second, so this particular dish may be lost forever to history. The great news is that it doesn’t matter: Every one of his menus includes one or more of these long-braised pastas, to be enjoyed as part of a 3- to 5-course meal.