Stone Hill Kitchen + Bar a family endeavor

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  • Chef Sean Crowley poses with his wife, Pamela Petersen, in the dining room of the Stone Hill Kitchen + Bar in Bigfork on Wednesday, April 10. Petersen also works in the new restaurant. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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    A large selection of wine on display at Stone Hill Kitchen + Bar in Bigfork on Wednesday, April 10. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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    Co-owners Andrew and Bonnie Matosich outside Stone Hill Kitchen + Bar in Bigfork on Wednesday, April 10. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

  • Chef Sean Crowley poses with his wife, Pamela Petersen, in the dining room of the Stone Hill Kitchen + Bar in Bigfork on Wednesday, April 10. Petersen also works in the new restaurant. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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    A large selection of wine on display at Stone Hill Kitchen + Bar in Bigfork on Wednesday, April 10. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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    Co-owners Andrew and Bonnie Matosich outside Stone Hill Kitchen + Bar in Bigfork on Wednesday, April 10. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

Stone Hill Kitchen, a new fine-dining establishment in Bigfork, opened this week thanks to the dedication and hard work of one extended family.

Husband and wife owners Andrew and Bonnie Matosich collaborated with chef Sean Crowley, who is Andrew’s nephew, Sean’s wife, Pamela Petersen, and a host of local relatives to revamp the former home of Moroldo’s Italian restaurant. The light color scheme and transformation of the center fireplace match the family’s vision of a modern restaurant emphasizing fresh, local food made with care and creativity.

“We completely remodeled the interior and really have been able to make this place reflect the brand,” Bonnie Matosich said.

Crowley, who spent many years in fine-dining establishments since beginning restaurant work at age 14, said the elements of every dish are of premium quality, with ingredients such as microgreens and herbs served fresh from an on-site garden and grow room. Other items are given time and attention to reach their full potential.

Making flavored vegetable powder for the grilled veggie board, for example, takes three steps — fermenting vegetables, dehydrating them and grinding them up.

The Stone Hill menu also includes share boards of charcuterie and cheese, small plates of grilled quail and a Stone Hill caprese with handmade mozzarella, and entrees such as crispy cedar-roasted salmon, Montana-raised beef bistro filet and vanilla butter poached prawns.

“One philosophy that we all hold close is that the more we can support the local area, the more that will come back in return,” Crowley said. “Utilizing local products will have less impact on the environment, they’re fresher and will taste better. We want to represent what this valley is about and what it has to offer.”

In keeping with that goal, Bigfork’s Whistling Andy Distillery provides spirits for some of the specialty cocktails and the list of beers, ciders and other drinks features local and Montana breweries and producers.

Andrew Matosich has pulled together a regional wine list with highly rated wines from Washington, Oregon and California. Most wines are available by the glass and the restaurant’s sparkling-wine preservation system allows the restaurant to serve sparkling wine by the glass as well.

Along with supporting local and regional food sources, Stone Hill Kitchen is providing opportunities for aspiring cooks in the community. Two recent graduates of The Culinary Institute of Montana at Flathead Valley Community College, Mike Hansen and Christine Giesen, were hired for the staff.

Laura Moroldo, formerly of Moroldo’s restaurant, has also joined the Stone Hill crew.

The restaurant is a joint family project and a way to honor Matosich family history in Montana and the Flathead Valley. Andrew Matosich was born in Kalispell and his father was the late Steve Matosich, who was a teacher and principal at the junior high in Whitefish from 1953 to 1969. Andrew and his brother, Mike, helped their father build the family home on Swan Lake.

Bonnie Matosich was born in Missoula, and both Bonnie and Andrew attended the University of Montana before moving to Washington, D.C., to work for the CIA. They both earned graduate degrees at the University of Virginia, then moved to California where Bonnie was an executive with the Walt Disney Company and Andrew was a partner at Summit Entertainment.

During their decades away, the couple always made it a priority to spend time in Montana.

“People might think we’re a couple of Californians who decided to move up here, but that’s not the case,” Andrew said. “We’re Montanans through and through.”

Though Stone Hill Kitchen is the couple’s first restaurant endeavor, they bring a wealth of management experience.

Part of that includes Bonnie’s work in consumer insight and strategy for Disney. She knows how to gauge and react to market demands and Stone Hill Kitchen went through a number of test meals to prepare for opening.

“They loved the creativity of the food and the passion,” she said in describing diner reaction. “They can really see that in everything Sean is creating, his unique flavors and how beautiful the plating is.”

Stone Hill Kitchen is located at 7951 Montana 35 in Bigfork, up the road between Branding Iron Station and Conrad’s Floral. Dinner will be served four to seven nights a week depending on the season, with a late-afternoon happy hour starting in May.

Visit www.stonehill.kitchen or call 837-2720.

Business reporter Heidi Gaiser may be reached at 758-4438 or hgaiser@dailyinterlake.com.

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