Mauro Golmarvi’s Secret Ingredient.

Heading west to Seattle from Chicago on the Empire Builder, about the time you’re waking up on your last morning aboard you’ll be passing through the Wenatchee Valley, justifiably called the Apple Capital of the World. If you’re traveling in the Fall, pull the curtain open and raise up on your elbow. There are literally thousands of apple trees out there, all loaded with bright red apples. 

Not long after Wenatchee, the Builder turns south, passes through Bellingham and then, when it reaches Puget Sound, swings left and, running along the north bank of the Sound,  heads into the City of Seattle. In the distance, miles beyond the far banks of the Sound are the snow capped peaks of the Cascade Range.

Yes, I know it rains a lot in the entire Pacific Northwest.  I once asked a sportswriter friend of mine what brought him to Honolulu. He said he had been working for several years in the Sports Department of the Seattle Times and he woke up one morning and realized it had been 104 days since he had seen the sun. He was on a plane to Honolulu a week later.

I spent several days in Portland for a Rail Passengers Association meeting. And, yes, it was overcast while we were there. But I remember being impressed with the transit system . . . particularly in the downtown area where a trolly car follows a route through the heart of the city and people can hop on and off free of charge. As a result, I remember downtown Portland as having very little automobile traffic, which means no traffic congestion.

I know Seattle better than Portland.  Tesoro Petroleum was the largest client my former advertising agency had and when they bought a refinery in the Bay Area and added retail gasoline stations throughout the Northwest and Alaska, we opened a small branch office Seattle. We moved an account executive to Seattle and I made three or four visits a year to that City.

And that’s when I first discovered Assaggio Ristorante. I didn’t have to look very far; it’s located on 4th Avenue next door to the Hotel Andra where I stay when I’m in Seattle. The food is superb, of course. The chef/owner is Mauro Golmarvi and you will be escorted to your table by his lovely daughter, Gina. Mauro may be the happiest man I know. He loves Hawaii—Maui in particular—and that entitles me to a bear hug and a scratchy kiss on the cheek whenever I’m in Seattle and in need of a superb lunch or dinner. The food is wonderful, of course, and the service polished. But what fills every corner of the restaurant is Mauro Golmarvi’s secret ingredient.