Have a hankering for Italian romance and meatballs, but lack the budget for a European getaway? Luckily, la dolce vita can be found just a few miles from town.
Greenbluff kinda looks like the Tuscan countryside if you squint hard enough, especially if you squint from the hill-crest beauty of TREZZI FARM. Against a staggering backdrop of vineyards and blue mountains rise red barns, one of which the Trezzis have converted into a tasting room. Specializing in country Italian foods and wines, they’ll host a catered event at the farm or you can take their frozen goods home. The menu includes meatballs sautéed with rosemary, bruschetta with toasted garlic bread, cheese-filled tortellini, and crostata di marmellata (traditional Italian jam tart). A wine patio with rustic wood tables and lanterns beckons you to linger till sunset as you sip their red Barbera (2008 vintage) or Sauvignon Blanc White Rooster.
17700 N. Dunn Rd., Greenbluff
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Enter through the barn’s main doors to catch Davide Trezzi at work in the kitchen. Sleeves rolled up to the elbow, he chops fragrant sage and rosemary (picked fresh from the herb garden that morning) and slices farm-grown tomatoes and carrots to be used in marinara. The ingredients are wonderfully simple. Take the marinara recipe: crushed tomatoes, water, onions, carrots, celery, soya oil, olive oil and Italian seasonings.
“If someone believes in our food, then maybe they will tell somebody,” Trezzi says, a vestige of an Italian accent lacing every word. “We keep it simple, always simple.”
Davide and his wife, Stephanie, who met and fell in love in Milan, Italy, share a passion for the good life.
“We work hard every day and are very happy. We stay humble and keep this always in our mind: Every day is a gift,” he says.
The next evening, I pull my polenta marinara from the oven, warm mozzarella cheese spilling over the sides as I lift the lid. I am a believer after only one bite. But one bite’s nowhere near satisfying enough: I end up licking the bowl clean. (Leah Robbin)
Trezzi Farm • 17700 N. Dunn Rd., Greenbluff • Open for wine tasting Fri-Sun, from noon-6 pm; food retail store is open Tues-Sat 10 am-6 pm and Mondays “by chance” • Call: 238-2276 • Visit: trezzifarm.com
The Tunnel Cookery and Drinkery is underground. Literally. Its creators, Adam Starchmann and Jeff Spencer, will have an uphill climb to establish themselves in Sandpoint, because not only is the Tunnel lacking in the usual street-level frontage that’s key to providing customer visibility and foot traffic —the Tunnel is absolutely windowless. This, in a town that, at least during the summer, boasts outdoor dining at just about every First Avenue restaurant (not to mention all those places on the lake).
Still, Starchmann and Spencer are undeterred. Once people discover their place, say the pair who met while managing Schweitzer’s St. Bernard restaurant, those people will be hooked.
201 N. First Ave.
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Combined, the pair have plenty of restaurant experience. Starchmann’s “Big Al’s” Prawn Linguine comes from Tony’s Supper Club. Before that, Starchmann ran Tartan Café. Spencer’s experience includes working at restaurants like Moon Time; he has also managed art galleries (like Coeur d’Alene’s Sum of 6) and his abstracts now hang on the Tunnel’s walls.
Their formula is simple: good food, reasonable prices, and consistency. Appetizers are $5-$12, like clams steamed in a lip-smacking broth of garlic, red chili and Pinot Gris ($12). For a hearty snack, pair Guinness beer-batter Portabella fries ($7) with a pint of Newcastle ($4.50).
Salads can be full- or half-order, like the Cobb ($8/$14) or warm spinach ($5/$9) with goat cheese. Ditto for most entrees, like our lamb ravioli bursting with tomato and fig ($10/$16).
Try tempura Ahi fish tacos on flatbread with bok choy slaw ($14) with Villa Sandi Prosecco ($8/$30), or the fun-to-say bangers and mash — English sausage and potatoes ($11).
The kitchen’s open late-night at the Tunnel, which is mostly unchanged in décor from when this location first made a splash as Three Glasses. Low-key lighting, banquette seating, dark wood especially along the long narrow bar, and a big dance floor (live music Friday/Saturday nights).
Difficult to find though it may be — look for the Tunnel sign with the “n” shaped like an open, arched doorway — the reputation of this subterranean Sandpoint pub won’t stay underground for much longer. (Carrie Scozzaro)
The Tunnel Cookery Drinkery • 201 N. First Ave., Sandpoint, Idaho • Open daily 4 pm-midnight • Call: (208) 255-4169
Save Water, Drink Gin
Few things beat a dirty martini made with Dry Fly gin, especially if it’s washing down gourmet bruschetta from Ferrante’s Marketplace Café.
Savor the above, coupled with a balcony view of the Spokane River, by buying a ticket for Dirty Martinis for Clean Water on Friday in the Falls Room of the Masonic Center.
Now in its fourth year, the event benefits the Spokane Riverkeeper Program — a sector of the Center For Justice focused on safeguarding and advocating the improvement of the Spokane River.
In addition to specialty libations concocted with Dry Fly’s popular micro-distilled gin and vodka, attendees can enjoy local beer, wine and music from local indie/pop group Mon Cheri. Ferrante’s will bring delicious deli sandwiches made with artisan meats like capicola and salami, plus their signature Gnocchi Primitivo: a potato pasta made with herbs, spices, garlic, basil, oregano, melted feta, spinach and grape tomatoes.
There will be live and silent auctions with culinary-centric prizes, like dinner for 20 at Ferrante’s, a dinner with local community leaders at the Peaceful Valley home of CFJ Founder Jim Sheehan, a four-course Persian meal and other cool stuff — a kayak, river trips, hotel stays and art. (Blair Tellers)
Dirty Martinis for Clean Water •Friday, Oct. 1, from 6-10 pm •The Falls Room/Spokane Masonic Center • 1108 W. Riverside Ave. •Cost: $50-$80 • Visit: brownpapertickets.com •