Name: Milano’s Restaurant.
Location: 9990 Mount Baker Highway in Glacier. 360-599-2863.
Quick bite: For years snowboarders, hikers and climbers making their way on the Mount Baker Highway to play in the mountains have stopped at Milano’s to feed their hunger for rustic American-Italian fare. I wasn’t doing anything except enjoying a leisurely drive the day I stopped in on one of the last sunny days of summer, but I still came with a hearty appetite.
I treated myself to a $19 pasta nera, which Milano’s makes using squid ink. Served with sauteed calamari, tomatoes and capers, this was a delightful dish bursting with flavor. The calamari was tender. The sauce had just enough of a kick from the chilies. The shaved and grated Romano cheese added a salty accent.
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The squid ink imparted a dark color to the pasta, offering a dramatic contrast to the red tomatoes and the pale calamari.
As delicious as it was the first day, this dish tasted even better as leftovers — after the flavors, especially the garlic, had some time to deepen. And you will have leftovers because the portions are generous.
Each dinner entree comes with bread and a small green salad.
Side note: Tom and Jeannie DeBari opened Milano’s in 1990. Former employee Dave Reera took over Milano’s in August from the DeBaris. Reera is a Culinary Institute of American graduate, and he helped opened The Table in Bellingham in 2010.
Reera, now the chef-operator, said the restaurant has been in business for 24 years and he planned to honor what the DeBaris started. Plus, he doesn’t want Milano’s clientele, which includes snowboarders from France and Switzerland, to show up this winter expecting chicken Gorgonzola, for example, only to see that it’s disappeared from the menu.
“We plan on keeping the menu fairly the same for at least the first year and asking for customer input about changes they’d like to see,” Reera said, adding that he also wanted to develop a happy hour menu.
If you’re thinking about enjoying a meal at Milano’s with your fall outing, get in there soon. The restaurant will take its annual break and close Oct. 15. It will reopen Nov. 5.
Ambiance: Casual and comfortable. There’s a patio for outdoor seating. You can dress up or dress down. This is the kind of place where you’ll be dining next to people who just came from hiking, bicycling, skiing or snowboarding.