Update March 2014: Tacoma’s Smoke + Cedar is now open. Read this blog post for more details.
Opening in early 2014 will be another restaurant from Pacific Grill owner and Tacoma native Gordon Naccarato.
The 165-seat restaurant is under construction at the Allenmore Golf Course in the new Elks lodge space, which was built after Elks members sold their previous lodge across the street to a developer. That site now houses a Wal-Mart.
In keeping with his penchant for naming his restaurants with a nod to their locations, Naccarato is calling his newest venture Smoke + Cedar, which will be located just off South 19th and Cedar streets.
At the cooking helm of Smoke + Cedar will be a chef familiar to Tacomans.
Matt Colony will be returning to this side of the bridge to serve as executive chef. Naccarato and Colony have collaborated together before – Colony was chef at Naccarato’s Beach House at Purdy, then worked at Naccarato’s Pacific Grill. Colony was executive chef of Maxwell’s Restaurant + Lounge in the St. Helens neighborhood until he left in 2011 to work at a restaurant in Poulsbo. He briefly worked at Green.House in Gig Harbor before taking a chef position in the San Juans earlier this year.
The new restaurant space is under construction, which means an exact opening date is not yet set for Smoke + Cedar. Naccarato said via email he hopes for a January 2014 opening, but construction could push out that deadline.
The restaurant will serve polished modern fare – expect playful spins on classic American dishes. Naccarato specializes in food with a 1960s sensibility, but with 21st-century presentations.
The restaurant will be open to the public. The lodge will serve breakfast through dinner, with a bar menu, too. This will be Naccarato’s first restaurant serving breakfast.
The menu still is in development, but expect breakfast dishes such as brioche French toast, blueberry ricotta pancakes, shrimp and grits and sausage gravy with biscuits modeled after those from cooking legend Shirley Corriher.
At lunch, diners will find soup, salads and sandwiches that sound inspired by Pacific Grill’s menu. A signature Smoke + Cedar burger will have cedar-smoked ketchup. A rough draft sandwich menu includes a clever-sounding smoked trout spin on a classic bagel and lox (made with house pickled red onions), an open-faced ham and turkey sandwich with Nueske’s called a “Prosperity Sandwich,” a prime rib dip and a crab burger made with house tartar.
At dinner, find pastas, seafood and steaks. A draft menu lists rigatoni with a Sunday gravy and a turkey pasta dish cheekily called “School Lunch Turkey Tetrazzini.” Meat selections include prime rib, pork chops and filet mignon. Naccarato’s flair with seafood shows up as cedar planked steelhead – which Naccarato plans to make with an on-site smoker – and scallops with bacon quinoa.
The lodge space will be portioned into the a dining area, with a separate bar space about the same size as downtown Tacoma’s Pacific Grill. An 80-seat patio will open during warmer months.
Wrote Naccarato of the interior, “… the space will feel like a modern rustic NW lodge.” He added, “The same interior designers that did Pacific Grill have done the interiors — McVey Oakley Design Studio. They have remodeled the Space Needle, Ray’s Boathouse, and did work for Bill and Melinda Gates in their personal home.”
Naccarato, son of longtime Tacoma sports promoter Stan Naccarato, has a prolific restaurant resume in the South Sound and beyond. He was bound for law school after graduating from the University of Washington, but wound up cooking in Los Angeles restaurants. His resume includes working alongside some of America’s most famous chefs – Mark Peel, Nancy Silverton, Michael McCarty and Jonathan Waxman.
In 1984, Naccarato partnered with the late director-producer Bruce Paltrow (father to Gwyneth) and opened Gordon’s in Aspen, Colo. While at Gordon’s, Naccarato was named one of the best new chefs by Food and Wine Magazine (and Aspen still talks about him – read this article).
Steve Naccarato prodded his brother to return to the South Sound and Naccarato did. In 2002, the brothers opened the Beach House at Purdy, which they closed in 2008. Naccarato opened Pacific Grill in 2005 with business partner Joe Hardwick Jr. in the historic Waddell Building in downtown Tacoma.
In June 2012, Naccarato opened the casual cafe Classics by Pacific Grill inside LeMay- America’s Car Museum. This year, he opened Shake Shake Shake with brother Steve Naccarato and business partner and Tacoma artist Robert Stocker.
Check back for an update later this month.