Il Corvo has outgrown its space. The tiny handmade pasta shop on the Pike Place Market Hill Climb, sharing quarters with Procopio Gelateria, is preparing for a move to its own more sizable spot in Pioneer Square. After Friday (Nov. 30), chef-owner Mike Easton will stop serving his $10 and under, “working person’s” lunches like garganelli with braised beef sugo alla toscano, or Yukon potato gnocchi in Parmesan-beef broth reduction. In January, if all goes well, he’ll reopen in an 1,100-square-foot storefront at 217 James St.
The new space will have a full kitchen, rather than the two-burner stovetop where he’s worked his carbohydrate magic since 2010. (It’ll also have room for his well-used antique iron pasta-making tools.) With more hours and more space, Easton will be able to exercise his passion for making charcuterie and other new specialties. “I have a little bit of a baking background, and I love doing our own bread, our own foccaccia, and house-made desserts. I really never had that capability at our current location,” he said. With more access to the kitchen — he can only use his current one until 11 a.m. — he envisions making enough pasta that customers can stop by for a bag to bring home and cook, “cut to the shape they want.”
He’s also planning Saturday family-style dinners and events.
Wait, I asked — wasn’t the whole reason he started up Il Corvo so he could be home to have dinner with his wife and put daughter Pilar, 4, to bed?
“I still love cooking dinner. The chef in me loves doing dinners and loves doing dinner parties.” One night a week should be fine, he said.
While the new Il Corvo will be open until around 5 p.m, rather than 3 p.m., Easton doesn’t see that as a huge expansion. “It’s mainly a stipulation of our lease… to be open a minimum of six hours per day. I’m typically at work until 5 making pasta anyway and preparing for the next day. We won’t mind being open and having people be able to have a little Prosecco and charcuterie and olives in the afternoon. We will still stop serving pasta when we run out.”
Easton has found a following at Pike Place Market for what I call the most Italian lunch in Seattle. (If you want to track how much busier the business has gotten, he said, observe how much shorter his daily blog posts have become.) He wouldn’t have minded staying near Pike Place, but “I’ve always thought (Pioneer Square) was one of the more attractive neighborhoods in Seattle, and I always knew it had a really good lunch crowd.”
Mostly, what he was looking for was a turnkey shop, which he found in the James Street space, where Built Burger used to be. He and wife Victoria Diaz-Easton had founded Il Corvo on their own, he noted, and moving into a modest ready-to-go spot is letting them again “grow into a new location and not have to go do the big restaurant and borrow $300,000 and have investors and have huge bank loans.”
He’s grateful that the business has grown to the point where his wife has joined him in the shop, working at the register, doing bookkeeping, crossing the t’s and bringing “everything I am not.”
Easton had worked at Lecosho immediately before founding Il Corvo, but had previously owned Bizzarro in Wallingford with Jack Kelly of Caffe Ladro. He worked for a time in a restaurant outside Florence then. “I already had all my own views of cooking already brewing in me before I went to Italy.” But going there “consolidated and organized all those thoughts about cooking I alrady had. Italy showed me how to take those things I was already stirring around in my own thoughts — and how to realize them.”
Look for more of them in the new spot, as early as Jan. 7.
File photo of Il Corvo courtesy of David Dickey