Named for a monastery near Venice, Italian restaurant San Fermo opens its doors today, about half a year later than expected. The wait has produced a gorgeous blend of rusticity and modernity inside and out of the historic Pioneer Houses, which were moved to Ballard years ago from the International District.
Above, you can see what co-owners Tim Baker (formerly director of operations for Wild Ginger), Wade Weigel and Jeff Ofelt (Bimbo's, Cha Cha, King's, Ace Hotel, Rudy's, Percy's), and Scott Shapiro (Melrose Market) have done with the 50-seat place, which abuts the busy Sunday farmers' market. Instead of sage green, the exterior is now bright white accented with black; the interior is similarly patterned. The inviting patio alone ought to draw many a summer diner.
As of lunchtime today, you can also taste the fruits of their labors. Expect fresh, handmade pastas and breads, authentic fare from throughout Italy, and Italian-American favorites like chicken parmesan sandwiches. Baker's son, Sam West, will run the kitchen, and Bode Craig will manage the cocktail program; both come from sister establishment Percy's, also overseen by West.
Baker tells Eater he's particularly excited about the fresh pasta, which will allow San Fermo the ability to change its menu weekly or even daily; the patio, which he thinks will be "a great spot for al fresco dining in the summer;" and the staff, "a bunch of great kids, a lot of people that've worked for me in the past." Of the overall concept, he says, "We're not trying to reinvent the wheel. It's truly a place that, having lived in this neighborhood for 20 years, I've always wanted: straightforward, really well done Italian, but not trying to reinterpret it, just make a good meal."
Update, 5/16/16: Chef Derek May is no longer with San Fermo; this story has been updated to reflect that change.
5341 Ballard Avenue NW, website. Lunch counter open Monday to Friday 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dinner served Monday to Thursday 5 to 10 p.m., Friday to Saturday 5 to 11 p.m. Sunday Market Supper (coming soon) from noon to 9 p.m.