Mamma Mia! New restaurant opens in Eastsound

Walking into Mia’s is like stepping into your mom’s kitchen – it smells great, it’s bustling, and you know your food will be delivered with a smile.

Mia Kartiganer opened her new eatery on Oct. 30 in a space that has housed a handful of island restaurants, including Roses, Comet Cafe, Cafe Jama, Chez Chloe, and most recently, White Lotus. She took over the spot in mid-August, and after completing renovations that included unblocking doorways and taking out the half wall and putting in a counter top, Kartiganer began serving what she calls “healthful comfort food.”

“It’s eclectic and multi-national,” she said. “I did not want to limit the ingredients we can play with. And we like to find ways to make things creamy without using dairy or excess fat.”

In addition to portable breakfast items like baked cinnamon donuts and boreka (a European breakfast pastry), Kartiganer is cooking up an omelet and pizza of the day, three soups each day, and a variety of desserts. She says the chocolate truffle tort, vanilla custard, and oatmeal butterscotch cookies will be staples on the dessert menu. Some of the lunch items, like the beet and black bean burger, are vegan, though customers can add Vermont Cheddar or have it served as a salad for a gluten-free option.

“I like the idea of not assuming what someone’s appetite is,” Kartiganer said. “Our menu has a good variety. I wanted to offer something a little different than anything on Orcas, which was a challenge because there is a lot of good food around here.”

Kartiganer, who has no formal training, began honing her cooking skills early.

“I made my mom breakfast in bed when I was six,” she said. “I’ve always enjoyed cooking. I like to create my own recipes because I don’t follow other recipes very well.”

Kartiganer grew up in Seattle, and spent three years in Europe as a child, where much of her flair in the kitchen was developed. Menu items like bigos, a Polish soup made with sauerkraut and sausage, and a Hungarian mushroom soup reflect her European tastes.

One of her favorite childhood memories was cooking Thanksgiving dinner and Mexican feasts with her mom and sister.

“No matter the size of the kitchen, everyone would hang out with us while we cooked,” she said.

Her favorite dish to make is soup because of the multitude of directions it can go.

“It’s all about flavor,” she says.

Kartiganer, who has lived on Orcas for 18 years, learned a lot about making soup from John Trumble while working at Roses in the location she’s at now. After “doing a little of everything” there for five years, she worked as a personal cook for a family on the island and also baked at Rosario.

This is her first solo restaurant venture, although she did run “Mia’s Winter Kitchen” at The Kitchen in Eastsound when owner Charles Dalton was on holiday a few years ago.

Kartiganer says her goal is to provide a friendly and efficient place to eat good food.

“We don’t want people spending their lunch break waiting for food,” she said. “We also encourage people to call ahead and order.”

Kartiganer says the best thing about Mia’s is that besides great food, everyone on the staff has restaurant experience.

“We’re all grown ups,” she said. “We get along great. We giggle and have fun. And we love feeding people.”

Mia’s is open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 10 to 2 p.m.

Kartiganer’s Facebook page has a current menu. Log onto Facebook and search for “Mia’s in Eastsound.”