When Rifugio’s first opened, it was a reflection of a traditional Italian cafe and only served one family-style meal a day. Along with their Sunday brunch, Rifugio’s now offers more of a unique fine dining experience for its customers. Located right off Mt. Baker Highway, this country Italian restaurant aims for customer service that’s “catered to perfection” and is planning to create a U-shaped dining layout as a visual representation of their customer-centered approach.

Lasagna Bolognese


1 pound spicy Italian sausage
1 pound 80/20 ground beef
1/2 cup minced onion
2 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
2 ounces of red wine
2 (28 ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground fennel seed
1 tablespoon of red chili flakes or to taste
2 ounces of heavy cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
12 lasagna noodles
4 ounces of unsalted butter divided
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups of milk
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Chef’s Tip: Use whole spices when you can for a fresher, stronger flavor!



• In a Dutch oven, cook sausage, ground beef, onion, and garlic over medium heat until well-browned.
• Pour in red wine and let evaporate. Stir in crushed tomatoes and season with Italian seasoning, fennel seeds, ground fennel, red chili flakes, heavy cream, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons parsley. Simmer, covered, for about one and a half hours, stirring occasionally.
• Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook lasagna noodles in boiling water for eight to 10 minutes. Drain noodles, and rinse with cold water.

Besciamella Sauce

• In a pan, add the milk, 2 tablespoons of flour, salt, freshly grated nutmeg, and 4 ounces of melted butter. Turn on the burner to medium heat and whisk until it is a thick but fluid sauce.
• Preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C).


• To assemble, spread 1 1/2 cups of meat sauce in the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking dish.
• Arrange six noodles over the meat sauce. Spread with one-half of the Besciamella mixture. Top with a third of the mozzarella, and parmesan cheese.
• Repeat layers and top with remaining mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
• Cover with foil (to prevent sticking, either spray foil with cooking spray, or make sure the foil does not touch the cheese). Bake in a preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil, and bake for an additional 25 minutes. Cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Meet the Chef

Chef Richard Balogh founded Rifugio’s in 2008. As a culinary artist, he wanted to create a space that would serve as a place to rejuvenate or, as the restaurant’s website boasts, as a “sanctuary of food and culture.” Hence, the name Rifugio’s (meaning “refuge” in Italian) and its customer-focused dining style was born. Alongside cooking at Rifugio’s, Balogh has also begun to teach a cooking class through the Community Food Co-op. He has led students through the process of making dishes like the restaurant’s jumbo meatballs with rigatoni, and often includes homegrown and locally sourced ingredients in his recipes. The homemade Georgia Flame Pepper Sauce he serves at Rifugio’s, for example, is made with peppers grown on the personal farm of a friend of his. Experience the one-of-a-kind flavors and exceptional dining yourself by grabbing a table at Rifugio’s, or follow Balogh’s recipe to the left to make their signature Lasagna Bolognese at home!