When considering how best to use an empty space in the Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher building, restaurateur Jonathan Cicotti took inspiration from the bars he visits with his family in Cento, Italy. Italian bars are “espresso bars by day, drinking bars by night,” and modelling the space after this concept allowed him to utilize it for two ideas in one. 

That idea comes to life at Bar Cicotti, a simple yet elegant Italian-style cafe and wine bar. It serves as an excellent complement to Storia Cucina, Cicotti’s original Bellingham restaurant, and the two locations are within a short walking distance of each other. If you find yourself on the waitlist at Storia Cucina, head down the block to Bar Cicotti. You can sip a glass of wine until your table is ready. 

Bellingham may have breweries in spades, but Cicotti notes that the city is lacking in options for wine and wine bars. At Bar Cicotti, however, wine is the star of the show. Their drinks menu is straightforward and well-curated, offering an excellent wine list in addition to a selection of beers and spritzes.  

If you’re looking to unwind in style, you’re invited to share a bottle with friends in Bar Cicotti’s secluded courtyard, preferably around golden hour when the setting sun illuminates the Lightcatcher wall. For wine fans on the go, the bar’s interior boasts a retail shelf offering up take-home bottles at a 40% discount — an appealing option for anyone looking to impress dinner party guests.  

During the daytime hours, the espresso takes center stage. It’s sourced from Caffe Umbria, a Seattle-based roastery known for blending and roasting their beans with true Italian sensibilities. The quality of this espresso means that there’s no need for complicated recipes or sugary syrups. 

“It’s like we’re letting the espresso speak for itself: Classic espresso, macchiato, cappuccino, latte,” explains Cicotti. “There’s not 20 different versions of each one of those drinks.” 

The food menu further demonstrates Bar Cicotti’s emphasis on high quality ingredients, offering simple yet creative Italian dishes from breakfast until dinner. For a truly authentic Italian experience, Cicotti recommends the formaggi and salumi platters. Can’t decide between meat or cheese? Order the grande platter for a mix of both. 

“La dolce far niente” is an Italian phrase that roughly translates to “the sweetness of doing nothing.” You can live out this concept by taking in the scenery, getting lost in thought, or lingering over a perfectly prepared espresso– the point is that you are fully present in the moment. In lieu of a piazza in Milan, Bar Cicotti is the perfect place to unwind Italian-style.

202 Grand Ave., Bellingham, 360.656.6802, barcicotti.com