Aragona, Jason Stratton’s nine-month-old nod to Spanish cuisine, won’t be around much longer. Stratton confirmed rumors that he is changing the downtown restaurant’s concept to Italian, matching his Capitol Hill ventures, Spinasse and Artusi. The new restaurant will be called Vespolina. Though not quite ready to reveal all the details, Stratton says the Italian menu will focus on fresh pasta.
About Aragona, Stratton said, “I’m really proud of what we’ve done; how much our guests have enjoyed our food and service experience, but the vision just didn’t catch on as we had hoped. So, we are moving on and we’re excited about it!”
Vespolina debuts September 8, enough time for Aragona fans (and I’m a big one) to stop by for one last taste of Spain.
Over the next two weeks, Stratton will offer a $65 five-course tasting menu with optional wine pairings, reprising some guest favorites from Aragona’s short run. Dishes I hope get a final play: grilled octopus; Catalan fish stew with black cod and artichokes; Arroz Caldoso, a rice dish made with geoduck; and Fideos Negros, vermicelli pilaf with squid ink, squid and cherry tomatoes.
I’d go just for one last taste of torrija–slices of challah soaked in egg and fennel seed, toasted on the plancha and served with sherry caramel sauce. Guess that’s a dessert I’ll have to make at home from now on. You’ll find the recipe here.
Spanish wine buffs have yet another reason to revisit Aragona before it closes: any bottle on the wine list above $100 will be discounted 35%.
In my three-and-a-half star review of Aragona last February, I cited Master Sommelier Chris Tanghe’s “erudite wine list” as one of the restaurant’s strengths. Perhaps the list for the new restaurant will include some vespolina—the Piedmontese red wine grape after which the restaurant is named.
Aragona opened in December 2013 and quickly earned kudos. It was a semifinalist for the 2014 James Beard Foundation’s “Best New Restaurant” award and Stratton himself was a semifinalist in JBF’s “Best Chef Northwest” category. Watch this space for more details about Vespolina, as they unfold.