The man behind Enumclaw’s Italian restaurant

Dario Brancato came directly from Sicily to SeaTac when he was young.

For a relatively small, suburban enclave, Enumclaw certainly has its share of restaurants. Just off the top of my head, I count nine or 10 privately-owned, independent eateries, plus all the fast-food chain franchises.

What’s more, the cuisine in most of the autonomous operations is quite satisfactory; that is, they may not offer the swank service or quality chefs of Seattle’s Canlis, but for the price and negligible travel time, they’re surely good enough.

Take for example, the Restorante Italiano, “Il Siciliano”. A few weeks ago, I sat down one afternoon with the owner, Dario Brancato. He’s the heavy-set, warm and friendly fellow who often sets at the far end of the bar, surveying his kingdom. They don’t come much more Italian then Dario. He was born and raised in a small town in Sicily and his family immigrated here when he was 14 years old. (That being the case, our goofy president might not approve of him.) They flew directly from Sicily into SeaTac and, even though they had relatives here to welcome them, that must have been quite an eye-opening experience for a young teenager.

The family settled in Auburn. Dario graduated from high school in 1999 and attended Green River Community College for a couple years, where he studied marketing and business. He also spent nearly 20 years driving back and forth in the God-awful commuter traffic to Gig Harbor and Seattle, working in various Italian restaurants.

He’d always enjoyed creating and preparing meals with his mother and grandmother. Early in life, Dario decided he wanted to own and operate a restaurant and finally, in 2015, he bought the Siciliano. It’s a family operation and his father and wife both work with him. (He has two sons, ages 5 years and four months.)

As you’d expect, the cuisine couldn’t get any more authentic. Their pizzas are made from first-class, all-Italian ingredients and baked in a wood burning oven that actually came from Naples. Eighty percent of the restaurant’s wine comes from Italy and so do most of the oils, spices, and ingredients in the meals. Dario bakes his own bread.

So, being fond of seafood, I had a delightful dining experience exploring the favors and textures of “Frutti Di Mare”, a wonderful blending of clams, scallops. prawns, and mussels. On another occasion, I enjoyed “Salmone Al Limone”, a salmon filet sauteed in a lemon and white wine sauce with capers and artichoke hearts. A tip of my proverbial hat to the chef, Sean Ferguson. He seems to know what he’s doing. Dario agrees: “He’s not flippin’ hamburgers back there!”

The atmosphere of the place is quite appealing. It has a secluded, quiet (especially if you’ve just been in Seeders) relatively romantic feel, particularly in the winter when the gas-fired hearth is lit.

Since he came from Sicily and since he’s re-visited the place several times, I’d be woefully amiss if I didn’t inquire about the Mafia because, of course, that island is allegedly their home base. (On second thought, I suspect our goofy President might be very fond of, and warmly encourage, Sicilian emigrants.) However, Dario claims he’s never met any of them. In fact, as far as he knows, he’s never even seen them.

Nevertheless, just to be on the safe side, I wouldn’t borrow any money from him.

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