At Europa Bistro, la familia si riunisce alla tavola

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Master chef Alfredo Russo has decades of experience in commercial kitchens, honing his skills over years of creating Italian dishes that keep hungry Tacomans coming back for more.
Master chef Alfredo Russo has decades of experience in commercial kitchens, honing his skills over years of creating Italian dishes that keep hungry Tacomans coming back for more. Photos by John Weymer

When the urge hits to savor an expertly – and lovingly – prepared meal of authentic Italian cuisine, Europa Bistro has a table waiting for you. Located in Proctor District at 2515 N. Proctor St., its Tuscan décor, enticing aromas from the kitchen and exclusive stock of Italian wines promise you an experience you won’t find anywhere else.

Alfredo and Justine Russo opened Europa Bistro in 2001, both bringing their talents to create this one-of-a-kind culinary destination. With Justine’s eye for design and flair for hospitality and Alfredo’s masterful chef skills, the couple complements each other beautifully in business and in life.

“My family has always been in the food business – wine, food, livestock, grocery store, bakeries – an array of different skills,” Alfredo said. Born and raised in southern Italy at Caivano (near Naples), he’s been cooking ever since he was around 14 years old, first learning from his family then venturing out to learn on-the-job through hands-on experience.

In addition to Europa Bistro’s unique wine offerings (said to be one of the top Italian wine lists in the country), all the pastas are hand made from scratch daily. Lunch and dinner menus make for a challenge in what to order, with the big selection of appetizers, salads, pasta, meat and seafood dishes enticing the senses, with daily specials adding even more temptation. Some examples from the dinner menu:

  • Penne ai Funghi: wild mushrooms with Italian sausage and rosemary in a cream sun-dried tomato sauce
  • Spaghetti e Gamberi: prawns sautéed in garlic, white wine, capers and spinach in a light Roma tomato sauce
  • Halibut Umido: pan fried halibut steak with capers and white wine lemon sauce on a bed of sautéed spinach
  • Anatra Dolcevita: pan-seared breast of Petaluma duck in a cherry port wine demiglasse on a bed of mashed potatoes

During lunchtime, lighter fare is offered – including pizza and panini – along with salads, appetizers, pasta and fish dishes, with the large majority of menu items under $10.
Alfredo said that some recipes are from his homeland, while others he created with Europa Bistro chefs. He also incorporates some ethnic cooking techniques (Middle Eastern, Asian) in braising, sautéing, baking, etc.

The general public can learn for themselves how to prepare flavorful and fresh dishes like Alfredo does at his monthly cooking classes. Working in tandem with the year-round Proctor Farmers Market, Alfredo chooses ingredients that can be found at the market. Classes range from 10-15 people who gather in the Europa Bistro kitchen for cooking demonstrations and to enjoy a three-course meal and wines. The ristorante also hosts six-course wine dinners with winemakers from Walla Walla, Oregon, and sometimes Italy when they’re in town. Stay informed of these and other special events by signing up for the Europa Bistro newsletter at www.EuropaBistro.net. Need catering services? Europa Bistro can take care of that, too.

Europa Bistro is open for lunch Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., then open again for dinner Sunday through Thursday from 5-10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 5-10:30 p.m. To learn more, and to make your reservations, call (253) 761-5660 or visit www.europabistro.net/reservations.htm.

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