Movin' Out

Just half a year after opening, the Mackay Restaurant Group's newest eatery, Troiani, experienced a significant change in its chain of command. Executive Chef Walter Pisano, formerly of Tulio, quietly stepped down in June; his protégé, Bucky James, and James' longtime friend and colleague, Demo Nicas, now share head-chef duties at the upscale Italian restaurant at Third Avenue and Madison Street. Pisano retained part-owner status after the power shift, though his direct involvement has dwindled since June. Why did Pisano and the eatery part ways? All parties, including the ex-chef himself and Mackay Restaurant Group VP Chad Mackay, insist artistic differences were the culprit. "Walter wanted to pursue something that was . . . a smaller-tabled restaurant," Mackay explained recently. Pisano was more specific, citing his and Troiani's divergent culinary goals: "[We're] just a little bit different in food style and direction of the restaurant," he said. "From their standpoint, it was looking for more of the classics and a more traditional style, and I'm a little bit more playful with the food." When asked the obvious question—whether he's planning to open a place of his own—Pisano expressed uncertainty, though Mackay claimed that Pisano's been making noises about taking his extensive experience (he worked at Tulio for 11 years) to the Bay Area, or even New York. As for Troiani, the entrée menu has doubled in size under the direction of James and Nicas, who have known each other since adolescence and both worked under Pisano at Tulio. Sushi Springing Up All Over Maybe it's just us, but the local sushi scene— already packed as densely as a sliced toro roll in a bento box—is becoming unsettlingly crowded. First we hear raves for Yamashiro, recently opened at 137th Street and Aurora Avenue in Shoreline; then we find out they're serving octopus salad with every meal and doling out extra pieces at Maple Leaf's Sachi (at Roosevelt Avenue and 94th Street); and, finally, the new sushi epidemic hits close to home, as the longtime happy-hour sanctuary Thai Rama II (home of the $1.99 appetizers) transforms, two floors beneath our offices, into yet another purveyor of nori, rice, and raw fish. The banner that portends the last of these changes reads, simply: "Coming Soon: Sushi Bar & Grill!" (And while the notion of hoisting a pint while nibbling on fresh sea snail appeals to us, we're not sure it's that kind of "bar and grill.") To avoid unnecessary panic, keep your eyes locked on these pages in the coming weeks for more juicy, unagi-like news on the latest wave of the Seattle sushi invasion. From Philly, With Love The new sandwich shop that recently opened in that funky triangular building on the corner of Denny and Olive is not just another Capitol Hill coffee shop. This week the neighborhood welcomes Red Line, a cafe with an emphasis on serious sandwich construction, which should be facilitated by the stone-hearth oven shipped from Philadelphia for meat-roasting purposes. Owners Katy Carroll and Derrick Aiona, who have always dreamed of owning their own business on the Hill, hope to turn this new venture into a welcoming place. To that end, soups and salads will be available for vegetarians as well as carnivores, with plenty of homemade snacks—plus a modest beer and wine selection—to accompany lunch. Food and/or beverage news? E-mail Hot Dish at

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