Longtimers will remember when Botticelli Cafe brought its panini press to a tiny storefront at the corner of First and Stewart, and Seattle fell hard. The lunchtime lines were epic.
That was over 25 years ago, God help us all, and Botticelli closed its doors this fall. But it acquainted a city with the singular excellence of Italian grilled sandwiches—just as, 18 years ago, a new spot on the corner of Broadway and Union called Osteria La Spiga introduced us to piadini. The flatbread from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy enclosed fillings of mozzarella and prosciutto and truffle sauce, for instance, or roasted boar with balsamic onions and taleggio; its very plainness the right foil for the robust richness tucked into it. Osteria's still peddling piadine, from its newer locale on Capitol Hill's 12th.
Now piadine are making their way around town, having in recent months been spied on menus like Orfeo’s (a roasted summer vegetable piadina) and, as of yesterday, Patxi’s in Ballard, where the lunch menu was expanded to include six new varieties of the flatbread sandwich. Usually that restaurant (a chain out of Sausalito) sticks to deep-dish and thin-crust pizza; the piadine, designed by venerable Napa Valley chef Seamus Feeley (Rutherford Grill, Farmstead), represents a regional Italian departure.