FOOD MATTERS | End of the line for Ponti

Longtime Seattle restaurateurs Richard and Sharon Malia have called it quits after a lifetime in the hospitality business. They were youngsters when they opened The Snug in 1972, and Mrs. Malia’s (technically Malia’s Northwest) not long thereafter. But the Malias did not want to be at the mercy of a landlord, so, in 1998, they bought a lot behind the Bleitz Funeral Home, overlooking the Ship Canal. They built Ponti (“bridges” in Italian) at 3014 3rd Ave. N., with views of both the lower-level Fremont bascule and the soaring Aurora Bridge. Elegant but not intimidating, a sort of dialed back version of Canlis, with over 200 seats. Close-in waterfront dining without the swarms of tourists. To fill the seats in the early days, Rich Malia pioneered the then-novel notion of a dine-around (25 for $25 at the time); private rooms with lots of light for corporate events; and a decades-long commitment to sourcing only fresh fish and wild-caught seafood.
“It has been a wonderful 25 years,” Malia said. “I am so proud of our staff and, most of all, Chef Alvin Binuya. He led this kitchen for most of its 25 years, creating a cutting edge menu that drew people back again and again. He is an incredible seafood chef who is gifted in the kitchen. Our managers and staff over the years created an environment that made guests feel as comfortable as if they were in their own home. And, of course, 25 years doesn’t happen without amazing customers. I will miss walking through the dining room and bar talking to them, finding out what’s new in their lives, and hearing their appreciation of Ponti’s atmosphere, food, and view. It’s been a wonderful, incredible time. We’ve made great friends over the years and they will genuinely be missed.”
The Ponti building and land have been sold and will start a new life as the Queen Anne Elks club. With the Elks’ focus on community, the Ponti property will continue to be a place of good will.
Maximillian Petty, the talented chef at Eden Hill, 2209 Queen Anne Ave. N., is doing a monthly dinner series this summer. Some pretty unique subjects, like a “Textures” dinner on Aug. 17. How many chefs consider texture? Every dish has it, not just presentation, ingredients and flavors. Eden Hill has all of 24 seats, so it’s probably not the place to make your destination unless you’ve called ahead.
Queen Anne’s much-loved Sharon Woo Fillinghim has a new project. You might remember her from Le Rêve bakery, or from Grub. Now she’s going to reopen Grub in the old Lucky Palette Vegetarian Meal Service spot at 307 W McGraw, next to Five Corners Hardware. At least that’s the plan; stay tuned.
At the bottom of the hill, at 803 Dexter Ave. N., the gastropub called Mollusk is changing direction. Chef Travis Kukull is leaving, the menu is going more mainstream, lunch has been dropped altogether, and the “no tipping” policy has been abolished.

RONALD HOLDEN  is a restaurant writer for Pacific Publishing who blogs at His next book, “Forking Seattle: Feeding a Modern American City from Farm to Table to Landfill,” will be published this summer.