Ever since the closure of La Famiglia many years ago, Orcas Island didn’t have a good Italian restaurant to go to. Portofino hardly qualifies since it’s mainly a pizza joint. That all changed when Bill Patterson purchased Chimayo and opened Sazio di Notte. His plan was to convert Chimayo, a favorite Southwest restaurant among locals, to a full-time Italian restaurant, but because of pleas from the residents, the restaurant now has a dual personality: Chimayo for lunch (en la dia), Sazio for dinner (di notte).
The restaurant prides itself on using fresh ingredients, including organic produce, and meats sourced from the island, which would include pork, lamb and goat. Judging from the menu, I would guess that the emphasis is on Northern Italian cuisine.
Our meal started out with a very fine dinner salad, actually an inventive variation of a Caesar without the anchovies, the olive oil infused with garlic and a little kick from jalapeño chiles. The salad is then crowned with finely shredded Parmesan. This, it turns out, was a favorite at Chimayo and has crossed over to Sazio.
The entrées tonight consisted of the lamb ragu and crab ravioli. The boneless leg of lamb had a superbly rich flavor from braising in red wine and butter, though the lamb itself was a tad chewy, preventing me from giving this dish the highest recommendation. The ragu sat on a bed of creamy risotto and topped with roasted baby carrots, bok choy and summer squash.
Local Dungeness crab makes a glorious appearance in the crab ravioli. These pastas were generous. Each pillow was chockfull of very fresh and sweet crab meat and served with roasted plum tomatoes and basil. While this is a very good pasta dish, the crab could have benefitted from the addition of Parmesan to offset its sweet flavor and there were too few halves of tomato. The few that arrived with the dish had you craving for more.
The wine selection is impressive and reasonably priced with special wines posted on the blackboard.
Overall, Sazio is the fine Italian restaurant that the island needs. Let’s hope it has legs.
123 N Beach Rd
Eastsound, WA 98245