A Fresh Choice at the Naked Noodle

By Beacon Staff

WHITEFISH – If you’re wondering where one of Naked Noodle’s tasty sauces comes from, don’t bother looking for an empty jar in the kitchen.

Instead, to identify the recipe, you’ll have to sort through herbs and other fresh ingredients, and then use your imagination. That’s what the chef does.

“We make all our sauces from scratch,” said co-owner Sonja Burgard. “We don’t open a jar of anything. Just a lot of fresh herbs, fresh veggies.”

Owner Sonja Burgard, left, stands on a picnic table to open an umbrella outside her establishment, The Naked Noodle, in Whitefish.

Burgard and her husband Rob Hagler opened the Naked Noodle at 10 Baker Avenue in Whitefish on Dec. 17. They were immediately greeted with waves of skiers and hungry locals, excited about a reasonably priced dining option.

While it is correct to assume that Naked Noodle serves noodle dishes, the menu is diverse, showing a range of influences: Italian, Korean, Thai and more.

Among the specialties are a four-cheese macaroni and cheese, Lo Mein, spaghetti, pad Thai, a seafood bowl and prosciutto-wrapped scallops. There are also salads like Thai chicken peanut-apple and Korean-style beef. One of the most popular dishes, Burgard said, is the “Authentic Thai Green Curry.”

“It has really deep flavors,” Burgard said.

For those who want to create their own noodle dishes, there is a choice of 15 kinds of noodles – from gluten-free penne to spinach fettucine to yakisoba – and 10 homemade sauces.

There are also various kinds of proteins, including tilapia, shrimp, scallops, twice-baked pork, Korean barbecued beef, marinated chicken breast and tofu. The seafood comes from Flathead Fish and Seafood Company, which Burgard says is the best around. The list of toppings is extensive. Make-your-own salads are also available.

Meals range from $6.75 to $12.50, with kids’ meals priced at under $4. Kids eat for free on Sundays through May, Burgard said. Naked Noodle is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. It has been a popular downtown business lunch destination, Burgard said, with its walk-in and drive-through window options. The dishes are prepared quickly.

The restaurant also does catering and Burgard hopes to be present at local farmer’s markets.

Burgard describes the food as both tasty and healthy, cooked under the supervision of head chef Joe Ditizio.

“We serve fresh made-to-order dishes from around the world that make everyone happy, from kids to adults,” Burgard said. “It’s kind of hard to explain to people. You can get a four-cheese macaroni and cheese or a pad Thai or a Korean beef salad.”

Naked Noodle holds “community nights” on Tuesdays in which a portion of proceeds is given to a different organization. The group is responsible for advertising the event and bringing in as many people as possible.

Sonja Burgard is the owner and operator of The Naked Noodle in Whitefish.

Recently, nonprofits such as the local spay and neuter task force and Flathead Youth Home have participated. Community nights have been filling up and, as the word spreads, Burgard hopes to have every Tuesday scheduled with a different organization.

“We’re just trying to give back to the community,” Burgard said.

Burgard is from Kalispell and studied photography and art education in college. Then in 2003, she and her husband, a civil engineer, were two of the original partners in opening the Naked Noodle in Bozeman. They sold their stakes in the company in 2009.

“We always wanted to do the whole thing – run it by ourselves,” Burgard said.

That opportunity arose in Whitefish and Burgard said she couldn’t be happier.

“The locals have been great,” she said. “They saw the need. They recognize that we have fresh, good food with a lot of variety and a good price.”

Naked Noodle is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday. For more information, visit www.whitefishnoodle.com or call (406) 862-6253. Or check them out on Facebook at www.facebook.com/noodlefans.

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