John Kernick

Chef Zoi Antonitsas looks to the bounty of the Pacific to shed new light on her hometown.  

By Chris Hughes

Maybe the only Seattle archetype more recognizable than grunge, coffee, and the saucer-shaped silhouette of the Space Needle is Pike Place Market, with its bounteous produce stalls and salmon-chucking fishmongers. That's why Seattle native Zoi Antonitsas is taking her newest venture, Little Fish, so seriously. A cornerstone of the new Pike Place MarketFront, Little Fish joins a more-than-a-century-old gastronomic tradition that's expanding for the first time in 40 years.

"My partner Bryan [Jarr] and I are both from Seattle," says Antonitsas. "So we're thrilled to have been selected to be a part of the Market—a place with 10 million people from all over the world walking through it every year. It's not a normal restaurant in that sense. We know how big of a deal this is."

Jack Sullivan/Alamy Stock Photo

Antonitsas has built her career showcasing the best of the Pacific Northwest, including at the highly celebrated Westward. Yet Little Fish is even more precise in its hyperlocal vision. Sure, there's the "Afraid to Swim" section of the menu, for the more aquatically averse. But for everyone else? Seafood in all its myriad forms, prepared in every imaginable way.

In addition to the typical raw and cooked options, Antonitsas's team will be smoking salmon in view of guests, salt-curing fish, and canning everything from mussels to giant octopus as part of an onsite conservas program—all from sustainably caught seafood off the Washington coastline.

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"We have all of these amazing ingredients that are available to us locally, and now we'll be able to promote them on a large scale," Antonitsas says. "In the deli we have the most incredible tuna melt you've ever had. At brunch, a tortilla Española with preserved octopus, aïoli, and pimento. It's familiar dishes, things you might recognize, with a little twist."

Meet Zoi

Age: 40
Experience: Bizou (San Francisco), Zazu Kitchen + Farm (Sonoma), and Westward (Seattle)
Formative food moments: "Eating raw anchovies in Cinque Terre, Italy; savoring oysters on a beach in Washington; and all the Greek Easters of my life."
Pantry essentials: Anchovies, great finishing oils, vegetable ash, lemons
Recipe strategy: Drawing the dish first. "Sometimes a picture tells a thousand words. Or bites."

Photo: Greg DuPree; Prop Styling: Mindi Shapiro Levine; Food Styling: Margaret Monroe Dickey

Make Her Recipe 

At Little Fish, Antonitsas's restaurant at the new Pike Place MarketFront, the chef serves a thoroughly grown-up tuna melt with tangy pickled vegetables.