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A semi-ceremonial neon sign lighting happens at 5pm September 22. Photo: Passatempo Taverna

Two of Seattle’s most admired restaurateurs, pasta craftsman Mike Easton of Il Corvo and booze whisperer Jim German, who closed his beloved Jimgermanbar in Waitsburg last year, have joined forces. The duo’s combined knowledge of all things food, drink, and hell, even kitchen design is reflected at Passatempo Taverna in downtown Walla Walla. It opens today, September 22.

But first, another Mike.

Ready to break away from corporate life, Microsoft attorney-turned-vintner Mike Martin co-founded the Walls Vineyards with Walla Walla winemaker Ali Mayfield. Martin purchased the old Pastime restaurant space last year, nearly a decade after the Italian diner closed, and has since transformed it into Passatempo Taverna—in name and cuisine, an homage to the former resident—with the Walls’ wine studio adjoined to the restaurant. It’s an abiding union of wine and Italian food.

The tasting room will have a few of the winery’s chardonnays, a grenache-based blend, a rosé of pinot noir, and red blend of Portugal varietals. And while the warmer days are waning here, there’s a spacious courtyard patio for alfresco wine drinking in sunny-and-70 Walla Walla.

As for Passatempo, Easton offers some assurances: “For the locals who come in and want to revisit the Pastime, there will absolutely be some pasta dishes and protein dishes that will absolutely make them happy.” Il Corvo fans and those familiar with German’s menus can expect “a bit more interesting and a bit more traditional, rustic Italian” dishes on the menu too. That may look like grilled lamb sourced from Upper Dry Creek Ranch, bistecca fiorentina, fresh hand-pulled mozzarella, as well as die-cut and Easton-forged pastas. German, a tradesman fluent in the language of libations will also pull from local produce: perhaps an heirloom tomatillo bloody Mary or an amaro and gin smash made with berries from Hayshaker Farm.

German not only runs the bar program but also doubles down as both CEO and chief visionary officer. While Easton, who clearly consulted on the menu, also helped design the functionality and flow of Passatempo’s kitchen.

While it can certainly be a restaurant to celebrate with friends over fine wine and food, Easton says, it won’t “be a high-end, big plate, tiny little food kind of place.” Dressed in farm overalls? It’s all good.

Overalls or no, take a day trip to Passatempo Taverna located in downtown Walla Walla (more precisely: 215 West Main Street).

 This article was updated on September 27 to clarify Jim German's role.

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