In a stunning Seattle dining development, celebrated Bisato chef Scott Carsberg — who reopened his upscale Italian destination in Pioneer Square last year to great acclaim — is no longer working for the restaurant. Eater Seattle confirmed the sudden change with the restaurant’s general manager, Michael Don Rico, and Bisato announced it on social media this weekend. A message on Facebook says, “Watch for forthcoming news about Scott’s next restaurant venture,” with a similar post on Instagram.
Carsberg has been one of the most prominent names in the Seattle restaurant world over three decades. In 1992, he opened the fine-dining enterprise Lampreia in Belltown, then transformed it into the more affordable Bisato 18 years later. In addition to earning a James Beard Award for Lampreia as Best Chef: Northwest, Bisato was named one of the 50 Best Emerging Italian Restaurants in the world by Restaurant Magazine. Renowned food writer Mark Bittman once called Carsberg one of his “favorite chefs ever.”
But Carsberg closed Bisato in 2012, citing the “intensity” of his schedule as a reason, and took a six-year hiatus, before announcing that the restaurant would have a Pioneer Square revival, with backing from Sam and Katsuko Takahashi (Sam has been a silent partner at Pike Place’s prestigious Japanese spot Sushi Kashiba). Critically, the comeback was a triumph. When Bisato officially reopened in early 2019, many raved about the food, with the Seattle Times remarking on the excellent ricotta gnocchi with pistachio sauce and nduja sausage and the salmon tart, dishes that showed Carsberg was still a “virtuoso of modern, minimalist compositions grounded in Italian culinary tradition.”
At the moment, the circumstances around Carsberg’s departure are murky. Though Rico claims Carsberg left “on his own choosing” on Friday, he didn’t elaborate further, and there are many questions that are still unanswered, such as whether the Bisato name will remain long term without its founding chef, and how the direction of the restaurant might change. This weekend, at least, business continued as usual, with dinner service uninterrupted — but, as of late Saturday night, Bisato had yet to hire a new executive chef to take the reins. Eater Seattle was unable to reach Carsberg for comment before this article was published; we will provide updates as more details emerge.