Mark Laska, owner of Ciao Restaurant in Coupeville is dedicated to much more than simply serving excellent Neapolitan fare. He says, “I convey my love for people by cooking for them. I find nothing more satisfying than nourishing people, and believe that putting fresh and beautiful food inside ourselves can feed our souls. I am devoted to the Old School.”
Mark and his wife Jennifer moved to Coupeville a few years ago with a plan to become an integral part of their community. Mark says, “We felt that Coupeville needed a reasonably priced restaurant that would be comfortable for the whole family and create a warm and fun gathering spot for the entire community.”
They decided to create a restaurant with a focus on Italian cuisine and specializing in pizza. Mark and Jennifer were determined not just to make pizza but to create “the finest pizza known to man.” Jennifer identified Enzio Coccia, the “master of masters” pizza maker in Naples Italy, and Mark was able to apprentice to him and complete a culinary course of study in Italy.
With this training and information, the Laskas created a business plan that focuses on using only the special ingredients required for real Neapolitan pizza, as well as products that are grown and harvested in the Coupeville area.
The specialty at Ciao is Neapolitan pizza, which Mark explains is a “protected food product.” This means that he has been certified, including certification from the Italian Ministry of Agriculture. The certification insures the use of Italian food products, including the flour, olive oil and San Marzano
All of the food served at Ciao is prepared by hand and cooked in the same manner that has been used for hundreds of years. The wood burning oven is similar to the oldest oven ever excavated.
Mark is fascinated with the process of cooking with wood and fire, and he admits to being passionate about this rustic form of cuisine: “I prefer to cook and eat the food of people who live close to the land All of his Italian products come from companies where he has visited their operations and established a personal relationship.
He is also is a strong supporter of his community. He used local craftspeople for the complete renovation of his restaurant; and he employs 20 people from the community and supports many local charities and organizations. Check out the website: /www.ciaowhidbey.com/