Long-time caterer opens new Vancouver tap room

Chef Peter Gallin focuses on ‘experience’ at Say Ciao! Columbia River Tap Room and Eatery

Last month another local business owner threw his name into the Brewcouver ring, but his background will definitely raise the bar for current tap houses serving up typical pub grub.

Chef/owner Peter Leigh Gallin of Say Ciao! has been quietly offering lunch at his Columbia Business Center location for several months in addition to running his successful catering company. On February 20, he opened Say Ciao! Columbia River Tap Room and Eatery with a menu inspired by his formal culinary training and personal experience living in the Southwest, Northwest and Asia.

“Our focus is certainly the beer, there’s no doubt about it, but food is what we’ll be known by. I’m utilizing my eclectic background from travel to create an overall experience,” Gallin said.

Travel is more than a footnote for Gallin. His favorite pastime continues to be riding his Ducati motorcycle up the Gorge, across the Bridge of the Gods and over to Hood River where he cut his teeth on Northwest cuisine over 25 years ago. As a result, patrons will not find beers from Seattle, Portland or Bend haunting his 13 taps. Instead, hop stars from Hood River, White Salmon, Carson, Washougal and Vancouver will be proudly poured.

For the last three years, Gallin has operated as Say Ciao! but longtime residents will remember him as chef behind Applewood Restaurant located in east county for eleven years. The name was born as a catering company in Hood River in 1990 to finance his windsurfing habit in the summertime. When winter approached, the Rocky Mountains claimed Gallin for skiing and as chef at a variety of restaurants.

Havarti Sliders
Havarti Sliders (Photo by Viki Eierdam)

A business park storefront is a less common spot for a restaurant, but it comes with a multitude of benefits. First and foremost is ample, free parking for patrons. Say Ciao! Columbia River Tap Room is also in biking distance to Tidewater Cove condominiums and will see plenty of traffic from Marine Park and its boat launch when the warmer months approach.

Maximizing his outdoor seating is the next priority on Gallin’s list. Within the parameters of the liquor control board, he would like to erect a semi-permanent wooden fence with built-in seating and planters and mimic an outdoor arbor similar to the one he had constructed for his indoor dining space. He envisions hop vines growing up the arbor and hopes to complete the funky outdoor space with a propane fire pit.

From a daily food-centric menu and rotating selection of specialty appetizers, to the tap list and the addition of a select wine program, creating is at the core of what gives Gallin the greatest satisfaction.

An 11-foot, live edge, wood slab bar that greets diners is a stunning focal point inside the eatery. Made of California redwood harvested and milled near Newberg, Oregon, Gallin contracted a Vancouver woodworker to cut it. As a labor of love, he finished it himself with a homemade furniture polish of beeswax, coconut oil and orange essence.

“I love running my hand over it – it brings me a lot of joy,” Gallin said, “I’m an artist and designing space and creating food for that space is my medium.”

Say Ciao! Columbia River Tap Room and Eatery is located at 2501 S.E. Columbia Way, Suite 270, in Vancouver. Hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mon-Wed; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thurs-Fri.