Ernest Loves Agnes closed yesterday on Capitol Hill’s 19th Avenue, but it won’t be long before another Italian-themed restaurant opens in its place.
Chef Brian Clevenger, owner of Vendemmia and Raccolto, will open two new restaurants in the space, with Ernest Loves Agnes owner Jason LaJeunesse as a partner in the venture. Clevenger’s partner Kayley Turkheimer will also be involved.
The new project includes Contadino Restaurant and yet more pizza for Capitol Hill in the form of Contadino Pizzeria in the adjoining space — both were formerly occupied by Ernest Loves Agnes, and before that, the long-running Kingfish Cafe. Clevenger will remodel the venue quickly, and plans to open this month.
The space at 602 19th Avenue East will house Contadino Restaurant, serving handmade pastas, vegetables, and seafood dishes — reminiscent of Clevenger’s specialties at his other restaurants. There will also be a chef’s counter where diners can partake in a $70-per-person tasting menu.
Dishes may include lamb carpaccio with Parmesan, radish, and arugula, charred octopus with white bean purée and dandelion greens, and roasted delicata squash with hazelnuts and crème fraiche. Pastas will include tonarelli with black pepper and pecorino; spaghetti with Dungeness crab, celery, and chive; and strozzapreti with braised rabbit. Protein options like a roasted half chicken with braised escarole and dates or local cod with clams, chickpeas, chorizo, and tomato may also make appearances.
At 600 19th Avenue East, Clevenger will open Contadino Pizzeria, with eight pizzas and a daily rotating special pie, plus sides. Expect dishes like greens with anchovy, croutons, and Parmesan; lamb meatballs with tomato sauce and chickpeas; and charred albacore with avocado. Pizzas will have toppings like pork sausage and escarole, pepperoni, and clams with white sauce. Diners can add on items like olives, anchovies, and fennel sausage.
Clevenger is bringing on Nelson Whitmore, from Pizzeria Delfina in San Francisco, to oversee both restaurants. The hours will be the same for both: open daily from 5 to 10 p.m. with happy hour from 5 to 6 in the pizzeria and at the bar in the restaurant. Stay tuned for more as the restaurants ready for opening.