Idaho Finds

Old House, New Life

By / Photography By Guy Hand | September 20, 2017
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The Queen Anne–style home that was built in 1893 for furniture salesman and Boise City Councilman Marcus B. Zimmer is all Rita Sturiale’s place now. Moving the dilapidated house from Boise’s Central Division on a brutally cold night in November 2015 to its new location at 15th and Jefferson was just the beginning of many months of renovation. 

The Sturiale Place opened in May as an Italian café and gift shop.

Inside it feels a bit like your Italian grandmother’s house, that’s if you have an Italian grandmother. The dining room is cozy—only 14 seats, eight of which hug a communal table—which, on this day, emanates the warm smells of meatballs, onions and rosemary.

The dishes, some traditional and some new, come from the recipe boxes of both Sturiale and Head Chef Nikki Russo. The two met through the Italian American Club of Boise and have been cooking ever since. “Nikki loves to cook, and I love to bake, so it works out well,” says Sturiale.

Grab a glass of Italian wine and browse the gift shop that showcases new locally made items as well as antiques.

“Being a long-time collector, I might pull something from my own collection on occasion,” Sturiale says of the carefully chosen in ventory, “but mostly I have too much fun looking for things to bring to the shop.”

In the next room Russo is stocking the shelves in the Italian import shop with wines, jarred anchovies, black truffles, plum tomatoes, dried pastas and Torrone, an Italian nougat candy. This is Russo’s first go at being a professional chef and Sturiale’s at being a restaurateur, so they plan to grow the business slowly. Sturiale’s daughter, Gina Sturiale, brings the knowledge of a food-service veteran to the team.

Currently the restaurant is only open on Fridays from 11:30am to 2pm, and the gift shop is open the same hours on Wednesdays. Check the website, though, as Sturiale plans to add other days for lunch and a couple nights for dinner along with special events and high teas beginning in 2018.

“I love old houses,” says Sturiale, a member of Preservation Idaho, “and always dreamed of having one to fix up.” The Sturiale
Place is that dream come true.

The Sturiale Place
1501 W. Jefferson St., Boise

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