Kirk Dean has owned various restaurants throughout his career, and Elio Scanu has several years behind him as a professional chef around the world and at Snowbasin ski resort.
So it was a natural fit when the two came together to open Zucca Trattoria in 2008.
Over the years, the menu has changed with the seasons and Chef Scanu's style has evolved from a classic French and Italian technique to a cosmopolitan fusion.
He believes in buying organic, local and artisan products as much as possible, and produces at least 90 percent of everything they serve in-house.
That means sausage ground in the restaurant, seasonal specials, cheeses imported from Italy and the finest El Rey chocolate imported from Venezuela.
Because everything is prepared fresh to order and from scratch, Scanu can cater to diabetics, vegans and gluten-free diets. He can prepare the pizzas, pastas and several of the desserts without gluten, which is rare for an Italian restaurant.
Some specialties include the Housemade Fennel Sausage Fusilli ($14), with Scanu's renowned sausage, and his Lasagna al Forno ($13), with beef, veal and pork ragu, Italian sausage, real parmigiano from Italy and mozzarella.
The restaurant also serves fresh seafood, such as the Roasted Salmon ($19.50), roasted with potatoes in a Dijon sauce.
Pizzas are baked at 800 degrees in a wood-burning oven to create a light, crispy crust. The Margherita ($10), a simple combination of fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, parmigiano, basil and olive oil, is one of the best-sellers.
Each month, the restaurant highlights a different region of Italy. For example, it is currently serving Wild Mushroom Truffles ($22) and Braised Short Ribs in Barbera Wine ($33) from the Piedmont region.
Tonight, a food and wine dinner, with a seven-course tasting menu and seven featured wines from Italy, Oregon and Washington, is being served, along with a discussion and explanation about wine pairings. Reservations are required.