Fall Comforts: Artusi’s Eggplant and Stone Fruit Caponata

Artusi. Photo by Charlie Ainslie.

Food & Wine Magazine’s 2010 Best New Chef aims for the best new version of pub grub.

Artusi's Eggplant and Stone Fruit Caponata. Photo by Charlie Ainslie.

The Scoop: 19th century Florentine author, Pellegrino Artusi, insisted that cooking was an art. In his book, The Science of Cooking and the Art of Eating Well, Artusi pumped up the craft and technique of producing a dish that was “economical, savory and healthy.”

Chef Jason Stratton, proud owner of Artusi’s book and the acclaimed Piemontese Capitol Hill restaurant, Spinasse, shares the author’s same values and proved it by christening his new cocktail bar after the man and his theories. Artusi, the modern aperetivo bar, narrows its big brother’s menu down to timeless and traditional Italian cuisine created to match the native beverages like amaro, an herbal liquor digestif, grappa, a grape-based brandy, and specialty cocktails.

“In Italy, there’s this hour-and-a-half before dinner when no one’s even thinking of eating, when the bars are packed, the energy is really vibrant,” Stratton told Food & Wine Magazine while they profiled him in their “Restaurant Empire Builders” feature.

Crave Factor: When Stratton’s patrons do think about eating, he wants them to think of Italy’s finest provided by the generous crops of the Northwest. Getting it while its fresh and in season, the eggplant and stone fruit caponata with cherry tomatoes and toasted pine nuts is exactly that.

Caponata is a standard Sicilian dish comprised of a cooked vegetable made from fried eggplant and celery drenched in a sweet and sour sauce. Stratton puts his own spin on the course with local stone fruit and cherry tomatoes to give it an authentically local twist.

Fun Fact: Barely into his 30’s, Stratton’s foot in the door restaurant job was as a dishwasher at Ballard’s Le Gourmand in high school.

Artusi | 1535 14th Ave, Seattle | (206) 251-7673