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Luigi DeNunzio Adding Little Italy Outpost in Madison Valley

No pizza, just “cucina povera” in new Aglio e Olio

Luigi DeNunzio
Luigi DeNunzio
Ronald Holden

One of Seattle's best-known Italian chefs is expanding his geographic reach. In partnership with long-time associate Tricia Harte, chef Luigi DeNunzio is taking over the vacant Pizza Hut space at 2743 E. Madison (at the corner of Martin Luther King) and hopes to open Aglio e Olio before the end of the year.

DeNunzio is a fixture of Seattle's Italian-American community, with three restaurants in Pioneer Square: Al Boccalino, Cafe Bengodi, and Che Sara Sara. The cheerful, mustachioed  DeNunzio is like an ambassador from a former time, when immigrant communities of all ethnicities had their own distinct areas for food, fashion, culture and fellowship around town.  "Seattle's Little Italy isn't dying," he tells Eater. "It's doing what Italians have always done: adapting to survive."

"Seattle's Little Italy isn't dying," DeNunzio tells Eater. "It's doing what Italians have always done: adapting to survive."

The Madison Valley space measures 1,300 square feet, most of it dedicated to pizza ovens, freezers, refrigerators, and other kitchen equipment, with seating for only 25 patrons.

Cucina povera (literally, the cooking of the poor) is how DeNunzio describes his cuisine. It's neither Neapolitan pizza or high-falutin' northern Italian. Instead, it's what he grew up with in Brindisi, in the province of Puglia (the heel of the Italian boot). Aglio e Olio translates as garlic and oil, two staples that provide the dressing for a late-night plate of pasta.

Prices will be under $20. "Back to basics," says DeNunzio. "Oven-based dishes, fresh herbs, good olive oil. No pizza."

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