Lake Union Restaurant Spotlight: Serafina and Cicchetti

Serafina Osteria & Enoteca has been a staple Italian eatery in the Lake Union – specifically Eastlake – neighborhood for nearly 25 years now. The owner, Susan Kaufman, opened the Lake Union restaurant just over 23 years ago in 1991.

“We serve rustic Italian food with a regional focus,” says General Manager Rachel Aiken. “With our daily specials, we try to match Italian tradition with regional produce, and mirror what’s going on in Italy here.”

The menu changes once each season to take advantage of everything that’s fresh and available. But a Serafina signature dish is the “Melanzane alla Serafina”: thinly sliced eggplant rolled with ricotta cheese, fresh basil and parmesan, then baked in a tomato sauce and served over cappellini aglio e olio. Mussels are also always on Serafina’s menu, and their calamari is a bit unique because it’s not breaded or fried like you normally find.

“It’s a balance of the comforting, traditional items and those things that are fresh, new and seasonal,” Aiken said.

All of the restaurants’ pastas are made in-house, and are handmade. “One of our sous chefs is all about pasta, and right now all pasta is cooked to order,” she said.

“Service is what makes us special. Our servers go above and beyond,” says owner Susan Kaufman. “There are many things you get out of restaurants when you dine, but one is most important: to feel taken care of.”

They have a fantastic loyal customer base too. “We have those people who come back time and time again, Rachel Aiken said.

That commitment to service is exemplified in Serafina/Cicchetti’s ‘Consiglio’. Inspired by “The Godfather” and designed to ensure the restaurant makes the best decisions, the Consiglio is Kaufman’s way to lead the way for many more years of Serafina. The group is made up of 14 people and includes individuals of all ages, careers, and backgrounds. They meet once per month to discuss future plans, goals, and changes, and then they email throughout the month to make sure things happen.

Serafina has an affordable, but well-chosen wine list. The restaurant also makes unique house-infused spirits such as quince-infused brandy, cinnamon tequila, lime pastis, and honey-vanilla bourbon. The infusions make great seasonal cocktails, particularly when made with some of Serafina’s Italian-sourced liqueurs.

Cicchetti and Serafina’s staff hold wine, cocktail, and cooking classes almost on a monthly basis, in addition to the occasional wine dinner. Another fun cocktail program the restaurants have going is their ‘Cocktail Masters’. Customers keep little booklets at the restaurant with different spaces to record your notes as you try various cocktails. Once you pass certain levels, you receive prizes such as a jar of Marasca cherries from Italy, a top-secret cocktail recipe book and starter kit, or chance to create your own signature cocktail!

Cicchetti was opened three years ago as Serafina’s catering-centric branch. It was a solution “for those who always wanted a bigger bar, or a private dining room, or a more casual way to enjoy the warmth and vitality of Serafina,” according to the restaurant’s website.

The space is often used for the classes offered through the restaurant, as well as for private event rentals (only a food and beverage minimum is required). When it opened, Kaufman purchased a gorgeous glass chandelier made in Venice for Cicchetti’s entrance space. It arrived in thousands of pieces that needed assembly – a job completed by one of Seattle glass artist Dale Chihuly’s apprentices.

It may be an extension of Serafina’s notable prestige, but Cicchetti also boasts its own unique flavor. All of the spice mixes used in the menu items are made in-house – you can purchase three of the mixes for $12 if you want to cook with Cicchetti flavors at home.

Another unique (and mouth-watering) feature is that everything in the restaurant is roasted or cooked in Cicchetti’s wood-fired oven. Some of Cicchetti’s most popular menu items are their house-made falafel and their Lamb Kefta.

Serafina is serving full dinner daily from 5 – 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and until 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Lunch is served on weekdays only from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and happy hour is also on weekdays, from 4 – 6 p.m. Late night happy hour is Sunday through Thursday from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., and Friday and Saturday from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. Call 206-323-0807 for reservations.

Cicchetti is open for dinner only from 5 p.m. to midnight Tuesday through Thursday, and 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. The bar is open an hour longer than the kitchen. Happy Hour is Tuesday through Friday from 5 – 6:30 p.m. Call 206-859-4155 for reservations or private event and catering information.

 

Lake Union Events: 21 Things to Do in June

There are plenty of Lake Union events to look forward to next month, including several exciting festivals. Don’t miss out on some of these much-anticipated happenings around Lake Union in June:

  1. June 1 – DIY History Workshop at MOHAI: Learn the basics of caring for costumes and textiles at this special DIY workshop at MOHAI. Costume and textiles collection specialist Clara Berg will instruct attendees on care, as well as allowing you to engage in practical tutorials. The event is $40 for general admission or $30 for members, seniors, students, and educators. It will run on June 1st from 9:30 a.m. to noon. Register here.
  2. June 1 – Clean Your Plate Workshop with 5 Focus: Lose weight by eating more wholesome foods. This is the first of three workshops throughout the summer where you will learn the basics of clean eating, how to work through cravings and emotional eating, and how to achieve and maintain long-term nutritional success. It takes place from 2 – 3 p.m. on the first of every month through August at 5focus, and costs $50 for all three workshops.
  3. June Sundays – Sunday Ice Cream Cruise with Seattle Ferry Service: Take a tour of Lake Union while enjoying ice cream desserts, hot chocolate, tomato soup and/or soft drinks ($2-4 each, cash or check only)! Every Sunday in June, you can take a 45-50 minute tour of Lake Union, from its floating homes to Gas Works Park, to Dale Chihuly’s studio, and historical narrative all the way. Tickets are $11 for adults, $10 for seniors, $7 for kids 5-13, and $2 for kids under 5. Pets welcome. Tours happen each hour between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  4. June 2 – Chateau Musar Wine Dinner at Cicchetti: Enjoy a vertical wine tasting paired with a five-course Lebanese dinner. Cicchetti is highlighting wines from Chateau Musar in this wine dinner on Sunday, June 2nd at 6 p.m. Reservations are $95 per person, not including tax or gratuity. Please call 206-323-0807 to reserve your seat(s).
  5. June 4 – MOHAI Pub Trivia at The Wurst Place: Every first Tuesday of a month, join community members and neighbors at SLU’s The Wurst Place for Seattle-centric pub trivia! It’s hosted by MOHAI, free to play, and happens from 7-9 p.m. on June 4th. Teams of up to six people may participate.
  6. June Wednesdays & Thursdays – Complimentary Wine Tasting at Soul Wine: Taste three wines (varies weekly) at Soul Wine every Wednesday and Thursday in June from noon to 7 p.m.
  7. June 6 & 7 – Donate Blood at the South Lake Union Bloodmobile: The South Lake Union Bloodmobile will be at the corner of Republican and Terry on June 6th and 7th from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. to receive blood donations. Click here to make your donation appointment. For eligibility information, contact the PSBC Clinical Program at 1-800-DONATE-1, ext. 2543 or email clinicalp@psbc.org.
  8. June 6 – Free First Thursday at MOHAI: The Museum of History And Industry stays open late (until 8 p.m.) with free admission all day for the first Thursday of June (every month). It’s a great way to check out the activities, programs, and exhibits at the museum without being required to pay an entrance fee.
  9. June 8 – South Lake Union Neighborhood Walking Tour: MOHAI and the Seattle Architecture Foundation are hosting “an exploration of historical and architectural stories that narrate how this neighborhood has dramatically changed to meet the needs of a growing city” on June 8th from 10 a.m. to noon. Meet at Carroll’s clock outside MOHAI. The cost is $15 for members or $20 for general admission. Click here to purchase tickets.
  10. glazers photofestJune 8 & 9 – Glazer’s PhotoFest 2013: It’s the 4th Annual PhotoFest at Glazer’s Camera on June 8th and 9th! Vendors will be showing off their latest in photography equipment for display and demo, and there will be several free workshops. Drop by Glazer’s Camera for the festival on June 8th and 9th from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  11. June 13 – Corks & Canvas at Pan Pacific Seattle: Sip, socialize, and paint your own masterpiece at this Corks and Canvas Pan Pacific Seattle event. A local artist will guide you and the group through your paintings, as you enjoy an artful selection of Washington wines and bites from Seastar. Tickets are $45/person and include your art supplies, instruction, and first glass of wine. More wine and appetizers are available for purchase. Purchase your tickets here. The event is from 6 – 9 p.m. on June 13th.
  12. June 14 – Northwest Seaport Chantey Sing: This is a sing-along event for all ages! Celebrate the sea, ships, and sailors with the Sea Chanteys at this June event, with the Whateverly Brothers. It is a free event that takes place on June 14th from 8 – 10 p.m. at Immanuel Lutheran Church.
  13. June 14 through 23 – Seattle International Dance Festival: Seven artistic programs are included in the 8th Annual Seattle International Dance Festival, Beyond the Threshold. They include Art on the Fly, The Inter|National Series, Spotlight on Seattle, The Threshold Institute, Dusk Dance Party, Dancing with the Seattleites, and the Sanity Café. Some events are free; others are ticketed performances ranging in price from $15-25. Purchase a festival pass for $50. Click here to buy tickets.
  14. June 15 – Bartending From the Farmer’s Market Class at Cicchetti: Each month, Lake Union restaurant family members Serafina and Cicchetti host a class on wines, cooking, and cocktails. June’s class will prove to highlight the best of local produce as we see here in the Pacific Northwest during the summer. According to their site, “Find creative ways to marry the season’s freshest fruit, herbs, and even vegetables with liquor to produce spectacular libations.” The restaurants’ chefs will compete to pair four cocktails with food items, and you’ll be the judge! Call for reservations, since space is limited: 206-323-0807.
  15. June 19 & 20 – 5th Annual Garage Sale at Shine: Get the lowest prices of the year at the Shine store in South Lake Union in this 2-day extravaganza! Discounts on gifts, kitchen items, apparel and more! Bring your own bag for a special surprise. The garage sale is from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on June 19th and 20th.
  16. June 20 – MOHAI History Café: The 3rd Thursday of every month is the History Café at MOHAI! Join neighbors and friends at the Compass Café at MOHAI for a discussion about history alongside a cup of coffee or glass of wine. At this June event, the topic will be Fremont: The Center of the Universe. It’s a free event, from 7 – 8 p.m. on June 20th.
  17. June 22 – Greet the Dodge Challenger Race Car at MOHAI: MOHAI is welcoming the winner of the 1981 American Hot Rod Association’s World Championship, a 1970 Dodge Challenger, for display this summer. The car arrives on June 22nd, and throughout the day its driver in the race, Al Young, will be speaking about his 25 years racing the car. There will be several racecar themed activities for the whole family. The event is free with museum admission.
  18. SOLSTICE paradeJune 22 – 25th Annual Fremont Solstice Parade & Celebration: It’s the anticipated event of the year in Fremont! Join the Solstice Parade at 3 p.m. as it begins in downtown Fremont before making its way to Gas Works Park for the Celebration from 3 – 8 p.m. on June 22nd. The celebration features Honk! Fest West, live music, food, and a beer garden.
  19. June 23 – Mayoral Forum of All Mayoral Candidates: Visit Immanuel Lutheran Church on Sunday, June 23rd at 2 p.m. for a forum of all Seattle mayoral candidates. C.R. Douglas from Q13 Fox News will moderate the forum, which is free and open to the public.
  20. June 27 – Tie Dye Summer Celebration at the Y: The Y at Cascade People’s Center is hosting a free workshop from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on June 27th to teach a variety of tie dying techniques. Snacks and materials (reusable tote bags) will be provided, but attendees are welcome to bring additional items they would like to tie dye. Registration is not required, and this event is free and open to the public.
  21. June 30 – 23rd Anniversary and Garden Party Extravaganza at Serafina: Celebrate with Serafina restaurant on Lake Union as they enjoy their 23rd anniversary. They will also be holding their 3rd annual Garden Party Extravaganza to commemorate the occasion, with a whole-roasted pig on a spit, grilling on the patio, new vintages of Rosé wine, live music and a staff talent show. The event is free and open to the public from 1 to 10 p.m., with food and drink tickets priced at $5 each. Don’t miss the “Iron Bartender” competition, where five of Seattle’s best bartenders will compete for the title of ‘most creative mixologist’. Reserve your seat (call 206-323-0807) as a judge for $95 per person, which includes five courses paired with their own unique cocktails (does not include tax or gratuity).

Featured photo from Flickr user Natalia Lewis, from 2012 Solstice Parade.