Post navigation

Prev: (04/04/11) | Next: (04/04/11)

Capitol Hill food+drink: Varro says ciao, Roy Street downsizes, NW Film Forum adds booze

Varro’s pre-opening prep (Images: CHS)

Sorry to bore you. But, yeah, another ambitious food and drink project is debuting this week on Capitol Hill. I know. We’ll try to have something different for you next week. Send hate mail to


  • Like the other food and drink venues opening up this spring on the Hill, 12th Ave’s Varro is highly designed, crafted and concepted. Unlike the others, general manager Rich Troiani will come right out and say it. He sees the new space — with a soft Monday opening today — in the Packard Building as what he hopes is the first of many Varros. But first, Troiani says, his team needs to make things work on Capitol Hill. “We hope to get this right and then open more,” Troiani said last week as workers hustled to put the new Italian-inspired lounge together and staff trained on the espresso machine.

    The investment in the new space is significant with a $160,000 construction budget according to city records. A look at Troiani’s crew also gives you a sense that this is a big concept about to hit the ground. There’s a social media person already on staff and a full-time music director who will spin live mixes throughout Varro’s open hours. And then there are the backers. Troiani is an industry vet formerly behind downtown’s Troiani steakhouse. Partner Glenn Walker is described as a “hospitality entrepreneur.” His Cherry Tree Management, LLC invests in “hospitality, restaurant and entertainment” spaces. It sounds like Varro will be a little of all three.

    Troiani says Varro is designed in the spirit of an “all day” Italian bar with 11 AM to 2 AM Tuesday through Saturday and 11 AM to midnight on Sundays and Mondays. There will be sit-down coffee service for those with time to linger. Seemingly with some reluctance, management has added a “to-go” area for Seattleites accustomed to getting their coffee on the run. Chef Giles Van Der Bogert says the menu will emphasize pizzas and pannini.

    The back wall of Varro is a massive black and white mural celebrating icons of Italian pop culture — and some headier symbols like Varro, himself. To their credit, there’s no nod to Capitol Hill incorporated into the design. Varro, it seems, will be about getting the Italian bar concept very, very right. Someday, you can say it started on 12th Ave.

    After its soft opening, Varro celebrates in a big way on Friday, April 8. Details here via their Facebook page.

  • Also on 12th Ave, High 5 Pie is beginning afternoon happy hour. Last week, High 5 sister Fuel Coffee celebrated its 6th year of business.
  • A sad ending for Seattle restaurant legend Scott Simpson is told by Nancy Leson of the Seattle Times. The Lunchbox Laboratory creator at one time ran one of the biggest buzz restaurants on the HIll when he opened and closed Fork in all of six months. Today, Olivar lives in the space.
  • Marination Station details on CHS, last week.
  • Roy Street Coffee still not a Starbucks but cutting back on choices, staff.
  • Northwest Film Forum, a CHS partner, now has booze.
  • Local flooding could affect local food.
  • Doughnuts (and booze) can make you really, really rich.
  • Elysian gearing up for 15th anniversary celebration in May.
  • Cap to the Hill talks smack about Mod Pizza, gives love to Pagliacci.
  • It’s not a parrot. It’s a cockatoo, no?
  • Cheese and wine party pairing CHS advertiser Poco with Calf & Kid next week.
  • April CHS happy hour at First Hill’s Primo on Wednesday.
  • Rock Box Sing for Japan event raised $3,600 for Peace Winds America.
  • Easter brunch? We know Hunt Club and TidBit are making plans. Others?
Subscribe and support CHS Contributors -- $1/$5/$10 per month

16 thoughts on “Capitol Hill food+drink: Varro says ciao, Roy Street downsizes, NW Film Forum adds booze

  1. That’s sad to hear about the Lunchbox Laboratory fella. I never knew him, although I’d heard a lot of good about him, and I was a huge fan of his burgers. I say “was” because I’m not crazy about the new, shiny version of Lunchbox Laboratory in SLU… the tumbledown version in Ballard was perfect.

    Vaya con Dios, Scott.

  2. Saw a sign up on Saturday that Pita Pit on Broadway was closed for good. What’s going on? The U District location closed too- seemed to be pretty popular…

  3. So, Cap to the Hill talks smack about Mod without even trying the pizza?! Kind of bullshit, if you ask me. I made it to Mod in time to get the FREE pizza and it was delicious and amazing – not to mention the staff was nothing but super nice and welcoming. I think it’s slightly crappy to call them out on ending the free pizza at 9:00 pm. Mod is pretty awesome and I think they fit in really well on CapHill. Perhaps you should actually try the pizza before slamming the guys…

  4. I had Mod Pizza on the free day and I thought it was very underwhelming. I’d stay a half step or so above frozen pizza. The crust was very thin, basically like a giant cracker and the toppings were scant combining to be not very filling or tasty. All in all, probably a good profit for the restaurant but not worth the 6 bucks when I can get basically the same thing in the frozen food section.

  5. I COULDN’T AGREE MORE!!! I imagine they came close to running out. I didn’t know about the free pizza and walked into take a peek around and grab a menu the line was almost out the door the place was packed. I also find it funny he was complaining about getting a whole pizza for $6.50 but was o.k. with paying $4 for 2 Slices. Im all about supporting local spots but for $4 he can maybe get plain cheese any bit of veg. or fancy cheese is going to put you at almost $4 a slice.

  6. Their shots are nowhere close to top quality. Having a Synesso is useless unless you’re constantly focused on training.

  7. ehhhh. Post was more humorous than harmful. I didn’t really see it as negative towards Mod. Just a commentary about the different price points and one person’s experience at the grand opening. Read the yelps of various caphill restaurants if you want to see what real sh*t talking looks like.

  8. Very sad, I used to frequent the Blue Onion Bistro as it was right around the corner from where I lived. Great lunch and great dinners, cool little space. Talented chef, sorry to see him go.

  9. Went there, not impressed.

    I can’t understand why so many people are so excited about them. Pagliacci is in the next block and is better.

    Frankly, all it looks like to me is that MOD Pizza is trying to get their business going infringing on the MAD Pizza name similarity.

    Not impressed with this one, sorry. Bring me a decent gyro. Those disappeared with the demise of Ali Baba.