by Susan Hamilton
The hands-down winner in this category could be compared to a phoenix rising from the ashes. In May of 1998, a fire put LUIGI'S out of commission.
"It was a long journey to get back," says owner Marty Hogberg. "We were out of business two years, three months and four days. But people didn't forget us."
Still, Hogberg was surprised that Luigi's won. "This is an honor. And it came from the community."
Hogberg says Luigi's recipe for success is that "we were fortunate to get a lot of our former staff back -- four of five chefs -- and our ability to create a nice, Old World atmosphere again." Not to mention the food. "Our food is special," Hogberg says. "We buy the best ingredients, make all our sauces from scratch and it's a good value for the customer."
Whether it's Luigi's Italian specialties, like eggplant parmesan, chicken calabria or the world-famous smoked salmon lasagna; traditional pasta dishes, sandwiches or salads, customers keep coming back for more.
Hogberg says Luigi's is committed to being involved in the community with charity work for A Heart Act to Follow, the Bite Out of Hunger, Wampum and the Corbin Center. Recently, Luigi's challenged downtown Spokane businesses and restaurants to match its $300 donation to the Spokane Lilac Festival so the weeklong festivities could continue.
Second place: Olive Garden
Third place: Italian Kitchen