Food Finds

Taste of the Town

Brad Inserra of Brad’s Swingside Cafe reads business books by mafia men and never feels guilty about food.

By Kristin Cordova September 29, 2009

As a kid, Brad Inserra went to live with his Aunt Basilia so she could fatten him up for football. After three months, he gained one pound. But Aunt Basilia’s fantastic Italian cooking was not in vain. Inserra has been the chef-proprietor of Brad’s Swingside Café (aka Seattle’s Best “Little” Italian Restaurant) for 19 years now and going strong.

Ingredient of the Moment
Let’s say pomegranate juice. There we go. It’s getting into the fall. We’ll go with pomegranates and chestnuts, just for fun, and rosemary. And house-cured pancetta wrapped around rabbit hindquarters, and the marinade has pomegranate juice and rosemary. And then ultimately, the sauce is thickened with pureed chestnuts. It’s served with either a polenta or a wild mushroom risotto.

Ada Boni’s Italian Regional Cooking. That’s my favorite cookbook of all time. But I’m not a cookbooky kind of guy.

Favorite Restaurant
Panos Kleftiko Taverna. It’s a Greek place in Lower Queen Anne. My favorite dish there is the arni aliada, and it’s just roasted lamb. But his place is all about the side dishes. You just order a plethora of small plates, like the octopus, the squid, and the broad bean salad.

Coffee Drink
A morning cappuccino at Lighthouse Roasters.

I’ll Make You an Offer You Can’t Refuse. It’s written by an ex-Mafia guy named Michael Franzese. It’s an ethical guide to running a business. It’s how to do it straight and actually prosper. I’ve been playing it straight for years, but not prospering that much.

Guilty Food Pleasure
Look at me! I only weigh 137 lbs. No guilt! Really I have no guilt about eating anything. I have guilt about everything else in the world though. I’m Catholic with some Jewish blood. I was born to be full of guilt.

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