Longtime restaurateur Gene Sens is happy to be back in the kitchen for a twist on the bygone favorites of Renton’s past.
Instead of the traditional calzone — formerly available at Gene’s Ristorante (where Vino’s Ristorante Italiano is now located) — Sens spun the lunch and dinner offering into a breakfast item by including a mix of basic breakfast ingredient: eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes, peppers, onions and the like with exotic accents including specialty cheeses, butternut squash, hazelnuts and chili oil.
On a whim I put a call out for Patch readers to join me for breakfast Saturday at Smoking Monkey Pizza to explore the downtown restaurant’s new morning menu.
Between the five of us, we sampled each section of the menu with the exception of coffee cake and granola.
Here’s the run down on our orders:
Alexis Madison and Brian Birmingham both opted for the fresh fruit beer waffles ($8 per order). Their orders arrived with a single salad-plate sized, golden brown waffle topped with banana slices, pineapple wedges and red grape halves garnished with a dusting of powdered sugar and a generous dollop of whipped cream. Maple syrup arrived in personal-sized mini-carafes on the side.
Both gave the waffles a positive review for presentation and flavor.
Ira Sacharoff selected one of the seven breakfast calzone options (roasted butternut squash, ricotta cheese, sautéed greens and hazelnuts, $8).
The golden, half-moon calzone offered a kick. Sens revealed the modest spice to be chili oil, inspired by the theory behind Thai-inspired dishes that “bring in a little heat” to help other flavors pop.
On a cold, wet morning the heat was a welcomed surprise, indeed.
In place of a sweet chili sauce, the calzone arrived with a size of fig jam for the adventurous, and a side of marinara for the traditionalist.
Ruzielle Ganuelas chose the daily special: a cornmeal waffle topped with ham and a fried egg.
The cornmeal made for a crunchy texture in the otherwise light and fluffy waffle, which arrived with a dusting of powdered sugar and drizzle of maple syrup.
Ganuelas enjoyed the flavors as well as the presentation of the cornmeal waffle, which included a garnish of red pepper and a subtle spice note, which came from the addition of cayenne pepper to the batter. She also noted a little kick in the fig jam.
I’m an omelet girl, myself, so I ordered the Autumn Frittata ($7) with peppers, zucchini, onions, goat cheese and bacon. I admit to committing the cardinal breakfast sin by holding the bacon, which Smoking Monkey gladly did.
My order arrived with a garnish of fresh dill springs and a side of crisp home fry-style roasted potatoes, red grapes and two slices of sourdough toast brushed with a garlic-infused olive oil and a side of fig jam.
The jam came across as more savory than sweet and included little bits of fruit.
Everyone ordered drip coffee ($2), which arrived with two biscotti cookies — a nice surprise. Smoking Monkey does its best to keep it local, so their coffee hails from Caffe Umbria of Seattle.
Aside from talk about breakfast, the conversation moved toward Renton’s breakfast spots, or the lack thereof.
“I’ve had so many people asking for breakfast,” Sens said, which is just one reason behind Smoking Monkey’s menu expansion.
We all had such a great time, Patch plans to do another breakfast review in about a month. Is there a breakfast joint you’d like to visit and help us explore? Tell us where and what time in the morning works best for you, and we’ll pick the most suggested spot!
Have you tried Smoking Monkey Pizza for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or happy hour yet? . Log on to Patch and write a review on their directory page. You can also upload photos of your visit!
Smoking Monkey Pizza
613 S Third Street
Monday-Saturday 8 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Happy Hour: 3-6 p.m.