Coming Soon

Ethan Stowell Plans Rione XIII on Capitol Hill

Roman staples like pasta, street-style pizza, and an antipasto cart will arrive on 15th Ave later this summer.

By Allecia Vermillion June 5, 2012

Rome’s 13th rione, or district, will inspire both the name and logo.

Ethan Stowell has alluded to his plans for a Roman-style trattoria in the former Tilden space on Capitol Hill’s 15th Avenue. But recently those plans just got a lot more concrete: The always-be-opening chef has finalized a name for the space, which he is sharing with Heather Earnhardt’s Wandering Goose project. That name: Rione XIII.

It’s the official name for the Trastevere neighborhood; the 13th district of the city of Rome. Rione XIII the neighborhood is full of both character and good places to eat. Rione XIII the restaurant will serve unfussy traditional Romano fare, says Stowell. Unlike many new restaurants in these parts, the menu won’t change frequently. Or hardly at all. “This is a place where regulars are built,” says Stowell. “You’re going to get your favorite thing over and over again.”

One of those favorite things might be cacio e pepe—a brilliantly simple union of pasta, pecorino, and black pepper—tossed tableside. Stowell recalls ordering the dish at Da Felice in Rome. “You could see the servers had done it 10 million times.” Other pastas might include carbonara, amatriciana, or other classically Roman pastas.

And while Seattle is well versed in Neapolitan-style pizza, the chef characterizes Rione XIII’s version as Roman-style street pizza. Expect a thin, crackery-crisp crust and adornments that are minimal on tomato sauce and cheese and heavy on vegetables. A pizza here might be dressed with olive oil and topped with rosemary and potatoes, zucchini and mozzarella, or squash blossoms and anchovies. One might compare it to a flatbread, especially because pizzas here will be more rectangular than round. Basically, don’t expect the same pies as Stowell’s new Ballard Pizza Company.

A wood-fired oven will attend to the pizzas and a few entrees, and Stowell promises glorious heaps of wood-roasted vegetables as antipasti. In fact, an antipasto cart will circle the restaurant, dispensing the vegetables, crostini, bruschetta, prosciutto, burrata, and other simple starter fare. Prices will hover around $14 for many plates, with entrees ringing in at $22 to $24.

Tavolàta chef Brandon Kirksey will be moving over to Rione XIII to helm the kitchen, and Staple and Fancy wine director Sennen David will run the front of house. Stowell said David is moving into a sort of “opener” role within the company, probably with a title like food and beverage director.

The restaurant’s logo is still in design, but expect it to look an awful lot like the official Rione XIII’s seal (pictured above); it’s tough to improve upon a lion sticking its tongue out. Stowell is also planning roll–up garage door–style windows for nicer weather and a bit of outdoor seating.

The former Tilden space (long ago a Piggly Wiggly grocery store) has been carved into two spaces; a bank of salvaged wood-paned windows separate Rione XIII from the Wandering Goose. It’s an arrangement not unlike Staple and Fancy and Walrus and the Carpenter. Stowell likes his small restaurants; his new place will seat about 40 people. By comparison, the perpetually humming Staple and Fancy seats 50.

Look for Rione XIII to open for lunch and dinner in late July or early August.

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