One much-lauded Seattle chef has quietly gotten back in the game. Months after closing permanently in Pioneer Square, Scott Carsberg’s Bisato has reopened as a ghost kitchen of sorts in SoDo, serving up heat-at-home meals for curbside pickup and delivery, with an online shop of pantry items coming soon. The current “Bisato at Home” menu includes a three-course dinner for two, with choices of lasagna al forno, eggplant parmesan, or Venetian-style octopus as a main dish.
This revival marks the latest chapter in a wild ride for the Italian destination restaurant. The James Beard Award-winning Carsberg originally opened Lampreia in Belltown in 1992 as a fine-dining establishment, then transformed it into the more accessible Bisato 18 years later. Carsberg closed that restaurant in 2012, citing the “intensity” of his schedule as a reason, and took a six-year hiatus, before announcing Bisato’s Pioneer Square effort, with backing from Sam and Katsuko Takahashi (Sam has been a silent partner at Pike Place’s prestigious Japanese spot Sushi Kashiba).
But signs of trouble emerged earlier this year when Carsberg left the Pioneer Square project suddenly in February (he wouldn’t elaborate on the reason for the departure, and neither would his partners). Bisato kept going with a makeshift staff until COVID-19 measures shut everything down in March during Washington’s stay-at-home order. Soon, details of the split came into greater focus, with Carsberg retaining the rights to the restaurant’s name and recipes. Meanwhile, the Pioneer Square space became a seafood and steak-focused restaurant called (appropriately enough) 84 Yesler, which is currently open for takeout and limited dine-in service, and earned some kudos from the Seattle Times recently for its multi-course New York steak dinner.
Even when he left Pioneer Square earlier this year, Carsberg hinted he would try to start anew when the time was right — and apparently that time is now. In addition to the short takeout-friendly menu, the Bisato shop is a new addition to the enterprise, and looks like it will include a selection of tomato sauces, pesto, and preserves when it launches.