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Waitsburg restaurant Bar Bacetto is a James Beard semifinalist

Bar Bacetto, 119 Main St., in Waitsburg, Wash., is on the New York Times’ Top 50 Restaurants of 2023 list.  (James Hanlon/The Spokesman-Review)

A small-town eatery in southeast Washington was listed Wednesday as a James Beard Award semifinalist for best new restaurant.

Bar Bacetto, an Italian restaurant for ages 21 and older, specializes in handmade pastas and cocktails in a historic Main Street building in Waitsburg – a town of 1,200 people 20 miles northeast of Walla Walla.

Chef Mike Easton, who found acclaim starting several restaurants in Seattle, opened Bar Bacetto in fall 2022 with his wife, Erin.

Mike Easton was previously nominated for James Beard awards for best Northwest chef in 2016 and 2017.

“The surprises just keep coming!” they said in a Facebook post. “We are proud to be nominated, and honored to be among so many other great restaurants. Big ups to our entire staff, you all help make us who we are.”

Somewhat off the map, Bar Bacetto hasn’t missed the attention of food critics, as it made the New York Times’ list of top 50 restaurants last year.

The 2024 Restaurant and Chef semifinalists are recognized across 22 categories. Finalists will be announced on April 3, and winners will be announced at the James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards Ceremony on June 10 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

James Hanlon's reporting for The Spokesman-Review is funded in part by Report for America and by members of the Spokane community. This story can be republished by other organizations for free under a Creative Commons license. For more information on this, please contact our newspaper’s managing editor.