— AWARDS —
At Assaggio we fuse the spirit of Seattle with time-honored traditions of Italy. We would like to thank our clients, staff, partners, media and vendors for recognizing our passions and for ways you all help contribute to our success story. See more reviews on TripAdvisor, Yelp, Google and Facebook.
Award of Excellence by Wine Spectator
Certificate of Excellence by Tripadvisor
Wine Enthusiast Magazine
Numerous other, come see our walls of Awards
— REVIEWS —
Chef Mauro Golmarvi on Why He Looks a Fish in the Eye, from Seattle Metropolitan Magazine March 2017
The Assaggio owner dishes on his commitment to serving humble, fresh food, treating his customers like family, and supporting people living in poverty to become chefs through his longstanding relationship with FareStart.
If you’ve ever stepped foot into Belltown restaurant Assaggio, chances are that the first and last person you saw was Italian-born Mauro Golmarvi. He’s been welcoming guests with his trademark gusto for 28 years, and he has seen many a restaurant come and go as Seattle’s culinary scene continues to evolve and other restaurateurs build empires. That care—the showing up every day to personally look after diners—is a dying modus operandi. And while new and trendier spots turn up around the city, Assaggio’s commitment to simple, classic dishes made from freshly sourced ingredients will never go out of style. “When you come into my restaurant, you’re coming into my home,” Golmarvi says, “and I’ll do anything in my power to make you happy.” While he doesn’t have a tattoo, he says that if he did it would read “Onesta, Qualita, Personalita” (Honesty, Quality, Personality).
It shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that Golmarvi has also been giving his time and energy to FareStart for more than 15 years, hosting Guest Chef dinners for the nonprofit’s students who have dealt with everything from poverty and homelessness to alcohol and drug addiction and are looking for a second chance. His larger-than-life personality and his own humble journey starting off as a dishwasher in Italy make Golmarvi both a popular and a relatable mentor.
Fresh back from a trip to Cartagena, Colombia with his fiancée, where he swears he had the best food of his life—the freshest street ceviche and the head of every fish he could get his hands on—he talked to us about his life in food and why he’s stuck by FareStart for so long. He’ll be hosting a Guest Chef dinner on March 23, at which diners will enjoy a menu created by Golmarvi, and prepared by FareStart students. Reservations can made be made here.
What made you want to get involved with FareStart and give back to the community?
I believe it’s the very best program around, and I love to give opportunity to the people who have dealt with drugs, alcohol, homelessness. I always try to hire them and give them another chance. Life is about giving opportunity to others. When you are a kid, and you’ve made a make mistake and you get a chance like that, you want to grab it.
What is your favorite FareStart experience or memory?
About four years ago, one of the graduates had no one believe in him. He was always told he was good for nothing. Even his mom wasn’t there. But then they showed a video of his mom crying and congratulating him – the person who’d been the most critical of him. Often, we never please our parents, so that was a great experience for me to watch that.
What do you want the FareStart students to learn from you?
I try to teach them basic cooking—not too complicated. Also, how to treat your knife, safety in the kitchen, learning about pots and pans. The stove and oven will teach you the rest. My main philosophy—when people apply to cook at my restaurant—is that I never ask them if they’ve cooked Italian or Chinese. I want to know your skill with the knife, the flame, the pots.
You’re very focused on simple, fresh ingredients as well, yes?
The freezer in my restaurant is so little, but my walk-in is so big because I believe freshness is so important. In Italy, we don’t have Costco. I talk to people at the market, the produce guy, the meat guy. I’m always learning. What are you going to learn when you buy a big piece of chicken at the store? When I came [to the U.S.] 30 years ago, I never knew you could buy a chicken breast without the bones. The flavor of the breast is in the bone! When I buy fish, I look it in the eyes. The first day, they are so brilliant, then the next day so droopy. By the third day, you have to put a lot of lemon on it!
What dishes will you be cooking on your Guest Chef Night?
I’m thinking I’m going to do a pasta fagioli, and for the entrée risotto with oxtail. I know that oxtail is a trendy ingredient these days, but it’s what the poorest people in Italy have always eaten. I want to show the students how flavorful it can be. For dessert, an olive oil cake—just flour, sugar and olive oil. The ingredients are your teacher. In Italy, if you put more than two toppings on a pizza, the chef will shoot you.
Tell us about your trips to Italy. What do you love to eat when you’re there?
I go five or six times a year. I love the area I grew up in, Ancona…the seafood is the best there. When we were there last month, they brought us out a fresh crudo, and my fiancée started eating it, and then they suddenly took it away. When she asked me why, I told her: ‘Because it was six hours old. That is for the German tourists!’ My favorite thing is to go to osterias (where the mom cooks and the dad serves) and trattorias, the places that serve humble food the way I do.