What is café pettirosso about?

- Susan Kelleher
Seattle Times Review, December 21st 2012

Café Pettirosso has had many forms since Robin Wright started it as a coffee cart. Yuki and Miki Sodos, sisters and co-owners of Bang Bang Café reopened Café Pettirosso in 2011. No stranger to the community surrounding the café, Yuki had managed Café Pettirosso off and on for the previous 10 years and was thrilled when Robin suggested she take over Pettirosso with her sister. While the business has changed in certain ways, the love behind every day at Café Pettirosso has only grown.

The Pettirosso Story as told by Yuki Sodos:

In 2000 when I first encountered the wonderful, quaint Café Pettirosso, my sister, Miki and dear friend Effie were working next door at Aria salon (now Retrofit). They introduced me to Robin Wright, the owner, who greeted me with a smile from behind the counter. Robin made the most delicious hand-pulled espresso on her vintage 2-group machine and played only opera. Walking into Pettirosso I fell in love, smelling hints of espresso and oven baked goodies surrounded by warm colors of orange, plum and gold.

Café Pettirosso lingered in my head all day long. I felt like I was in another place, transported straight to Italy. The colorful café and charming ambiance had a gravitational pull, and not just for me. On any given Seattle day, familiar folks would wander by, from the brilliant Dan Savage to local bar owners like the lovely Diana from Vermillion, and sweet Tony from 35th North.

Miki saw a “for hire” sign in the Pettirosso window, and the rest is history.

I loved working with Robin and was learning the beautiful mysteries of her hand-pulled machine. I would bake my mother’s coffee cake recipe from a clipping in the NY times. Pettirosso didn’t have a proper oven yet so I used a little mini oven that lived on top of Robin’s vintage pink fridge with a magnet of Gilda Radner on it. The smell of the coffee cake would fill the air and folks wandered in from the street, drawn by the aroma. From then on I realized when it was slow in the afternoon all I had to do was bake some cookies or coffeecake in the little mini oven. It worked like magic!

Robin hired Danell George in 2006, and we became fast friends. Danell taught me how to bake the lovely Pettirosso scones, amongst many other items. She went on to bake at The Fairmont Olympic under pastry Chef Artis Kalsons. One incredible thing about Pettirosso is how often old employees come back after going out to learn from other talented individuals. Just recently,  Danell George, or perhaps we should say, Pastry Chef Danell George has come back to us! Along with Pastry Chef Eric Todd, formerly of the B&O espresso we have a wonderful pastry and cake program. 

In 2009 Miki and I had the opportunity to start the Bang Bang Café in Belltown. It was so fun and amazing, and I was able to bake everyday. Miki would cook and we found inspiration daily as we built a wonderful community in Belltown. It was so funny, we began to have many crossover customers, which made us realize just how small this town really is! When Robin offered to let us take over Café Pettirosso, even though we had our hands full with Bang Bang Café, we had to do it!

 One day Robin told me that she decided that I should have Pettirosso.  My sister and I should continue it and keep it going, I now realize why… Miki and I love Pettirosso and we love what we do. We struggled with keeping the some of the charm when we added space creating a larger dining area and kitchen.   The transformation was an amazing process because the building is over 100 years old.  From the beautiful car decking low ceilings to the cargo elevator, that can still carry an automobile on it, to the original door from the front of the building, it speaks volumes.  The 1101 building itself has its own charm and character.

I remember one night when we first got the lease, our friend Effie came by and we were chatting outside. It was such a flashback! I realized we had been doing this for 15 years.

Here’s to 15 more on Capitol Hill!