Namesake exits Troiani

The marquee name behind Troiani, Mackay Restaurant Group's year-old Italian steakhouse, has left the building.

"It wasn't my choice," says Rich Troiani, the former managing partner of the upscale, downtown establishment at 1001 Third Ave., now under the managerial direction of proprietor Paul Mackay.

Troiani's forced leave-taking, officially labeled "a sabbatical," is an attempt to turn around an entity in financial distress, according to Mackay, whose growing company owns El Gaucho restaurants in Seattle, Portland and Tacoma and Waterfront Seafood Grill and Rippe's at Pier 70. "The last thing I ever wanted to do was step in there," Mackay says.

"I'm Mr. Fix-it, and I stepped in there to fix it. I had to stop the bleeding, and I had to stop it right now."

Mackay cites a disparate vision for running the restaurant as the impetus behind Troiani's exit, echoing the explanation given for the June exodus of opening chef Walter Pisano. Pisano has since returned to his longtime post at Tulio Ristorante in the Hotel Vintage Park. As for maintaining the Troiani name in its namesake's absence, Mackay says, "I want to keep it. It's perfect for an upscale Italian grill."

Nancy Leson, Seattle Times restaurant critic