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thelastsupper

Osteria La Spiga

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So, I tried this place out awhile back and after much thought, haven't made up my mind about it. The place is comfortable. The food is fairly cheap, but I didn't love anything. Normally this wouldn't torment me so much . . . it's just that the food was so damn promising. I felt love dancing all around the room. The texture of my papardelle was perfect . . . but bland as hell. It was like the person who made the meal had a really bad cold or was recovering from a hangover and forgot to taste. Similarly, one of the salads was absolutely drenched in balsamic. Mamster, I know that you like La Spiga alot, have you been by recently and noticed changes? Anyone else? Maybe it was just an offnite . . .?

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I was there for lunch yesterday. My experience has been mixed: I love the decor, the ambience, and much of the food, but it can definitely be inconsistent. Also, the waiters are just jaw-droppingly inept.

First of all, the bread is bland and it's supposed to be bland. I like it, but when I get the sandwiches, I always get the crescione (one piece of piadina, stuffed) rather than the piadine (two pieces with fillings in between) because the latter is just too bready. Yesterday I had the crescione with speck, fontina, and zucchini, and I liked it a lot. The meat and cheese crescione are by far my favorite thing they serve there; I used to get one with salami, cayenne pepper, and some kind of cheese that was excellent. Also got soup, which was farro and cannellini; it was a little oversalted and not terribly interesting.

The desserts are mostly good; I don't even like tiramisu and I like their tiramisu. Good wine list, and I see they're now doing premium pours by the glass, including barbaresco, one of my favorites.

Laurie had the tagliatelli with truffle butter, which I like, but it's like you said: perfect texture and a little bland. I like their tagliatelli with ragu, but (and this is something cooks are required by law to say) I like my homemade ragu better.

They've changed their salads around since last I was there, but the bruciatina with crisped prosciutto and balsamic was great. But I could see thinking it's over-vinegared if you're not a vinegar hound like me. There's a variation on it now with hard-boiled eggs and something else.

So basically I agree--it's a good place that I wish were unambiguously great. I'll keep going back because it's inexpensive and near my house, and I'm never actually disappointed.

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I used to love this place. The food was very tasty and cheap. Then they changed the menu, slimming it down quite a bit. The last straw, though, was when I went on a bread-making kick a while ago and started looking into making piadina, the bread the serve. Each recipe I found had pork fat in it. So I called the restaurant and asked - sure enough, their piadina is made with pork fat.

I'm not veggie, but I absolutely will not eat pork. I'd asked several times if there was any meat in any of the dishes I'd ordered (we'd order a crescione most times we went there) and had always been told there wasn't. We'd been with friends who are strict veggies who had also asked and been told that the veggie cresciones were meat free. Needless to say, I haven't set foot in the place since, which is a pity since they make a great tiramisu.

- S

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I should say up front that I have a really hard time being totally objective about La Spiga. I've been going there regularly since the first month they opened and know the owners pretty well, they are wonderful people (sorry if I appear to be having a La Nina moment here :wink:...they do use fresh mozzarella on occaision). It is one of the warmest and friendliest places I know of to have a meal.

As mamster said (by the way, was that you that sat down at my table during lunch the other day?), service is definately their weak link. I believe it is a combination of hiring decisions and a lack of training. I am certain that Fish's most unfortunate experience was due to ignorance on the part of the staff, not any malicious intent.

I was also disappointed when they pared back the menu, but they did it to make things more manageable after Sabrina (the chef and owner along w/her husband, Pietro and sister) had a baby.

I will also grant that the items on their menu are not uniformly excellent, but there are a few things that I consider to be the very best of their kind. In particular, I've never had better tiramisu or better lasagne that what I can get at La Spiga. I would agree with mamster that the soup at lunch the other day was not terribly exciting, but this was the first time I've had a soup there that I wasn't totally enamored with. They are generally excellent and quite interesting.

I will also acknowledge that since I moved out of the neighborhood and they raised their prices, I don't go there as often (once a month) as I used to (2-3 times a week), but I haven't noticed any significant slip in the food quality.

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That's true, I used to get the passatelli, which is spaetzle-like breadcrumb dumplings in meat broth, and it was great.

It's amazing how you get the world's most stereotypical "actor waiting tables until I get my big break" types on Broadway. I've come to kind of enjoy it.

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They've changed their salads around since last I was there, but the bruciatina with crisped prosciutto and balsamic was great.  But I could see thinking it's over-vinegared if you're not a vinegar hound like me.  There's a variation on it now with hard-boiled eggs and something else.

That is the one I had a few tastes of. The weird thing . . . they get difficult things down: like a boiled egg that is past soft but not totally crumbly in texture (mollet, I believe), and screw up on things like seasoning. I like vinegar also, but as Marcella Hazan says about balsamic: "It should not be used so often or so indiscriminately that its flavor loses the power to surprise and its emphatic accents become tiresome with repetition." That salad was wading around in a puddle of balsamic. It reminded me of the cartoon where the superhero (from Schoolhouse Rock I think?) pulled drowning lettuce, carrot sticks and french fries out of dressing and ketchup.

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That's true, I used to get the passatelli, which is spaetzle-like breadcrumb dumplings in meat broth, and it was great.

I keep meaning to ask what happened to the passatelli. I haven't seen it there for a long time and it was one of my favorites. I also love the lentil and sour apple soup and some of the puree soups they have. The bean puree soup I had the other day was not nearly as thick as it usually is, which was too bad.

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Had dinner at La Spiga tonight and enjoyed a remarkable pasta dish. Tagliatelle made from chesnut flour, tossed with sauteed Italian sausage, chickpeas and spinach. Unlike many 'flavored' pastas, with this one the chestnut flavor came through clearly.

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Anita (ScorchedPalate) and I had a pleasant dinner at Osteria la Spiga last night. Anita started with a rustic mushroom soup filled with lotsa chopped mushrooms and onions and finished with cream. Rich and tasty. My carrot salad was also good: shredded carrot over field greens w/hazelnuts -- <rant>good, fat halves, not that awful pile of slices and crumbs that so often appears</rant> -- a few slices of fresh mozzarella, and a basalmic vinaigrette.

We had tagliatelle ragu variants for our main course: Anita's was standard tomato and meat bolognese, mine was wild boar w/white wine over spinach pasta. Good stuff, although the pasta was a bit overcooked for my taste. We drank a serviceable bottle of sangiovese with our meal.

Service was low-key but attentive, and the dining area was cute and cozy. The reggae music playing in the background was a bit bizarre, but not intrusive. We feel like we got good value for our money. I ordered the most expensive entrée, but we still escaped for about $70 with tip. We’ll definitely return.

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Dropped into Osteria La Spiga last night with a friend a bit late -- it the only time they could get us in (we called last night at 6:00) was 9:00. We had a few cocktails up at a bar up the street and came in. They sat us promptly and curteously.

We had a nice bottle of red and started with a plate of prosciutto which was cut super-thin and was wonderful. They served us some bread with this and I don't know if it's what they always give you no matter what you order, but I thought the bread was strangely thick and flavorless.

Then we moved on to the day's starter special, the gnocco fritto. This was the highlight of the meal, I think -- three of the pieces of puffed fried dough were topped with a pistachio prosciutto and two others were served warm with a cured meat and mozz. Delicious.

We then ordered the tagliatelle ragu with the wild boar and white wine that seacrotty mentioned. I agree that it was just slightly overcooked, while my dining companion felt it was expertly done. The server spent quite a bit of time at our table BS'ing with us and made us feel very welcome.

Our tab was about $70 before the tip -- I'll definitely be back.

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They served us some bread with this and I don't know if it's what they always give you no matter what you order, but I thought the bread was strangely thick and flavorless. 

Have you been to Tuscany? The standard bread has no salt and not a light crumb, as I discovered. I happen to like it, but my dining companion got tired of it quickly. I guess I should check it out and see how closely this resembles that.


Edited by tsquare (log)

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No, I've never been to Tuscany. I've never seen a bread like this -- it was from a circular shaped bread and cut into rounded triangles much like you might see from a pita. In fact, it was very much like a pita bread, but less airy than I'm used to.

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The bread at La Spiga is called piadina, and it's from Romagna. It's extremely different from Tuscan bread, more like a tortilla.

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When I had lunch at La Spiga on Friday, I noticed that on Thursdays this month, they're offering a $28/4 or 5 course fixed price dinner. It sounds like there aren't any choices and you get whatever is coming out of the kitchen. I'm bummed to completely miss it, but hopefully they'll do it again.

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When I had lunch at La Spiga on Friday, I noticed that on Thursdays this month, they're offering a $28/4 or 5 course fixed price dinner.  It sounds like there aren't any choices and you get whatever is coming out of the kitchen.  I'm bummed to completely miss it, but hopefully they'll do it again.

I was there on a Thursday a month or two ago. No choices (if you're there on a Thursday night, you get the fixed menu), some of the dishes were slightly different than their normal menu. I don't remember exactly what they were but it was something like a few appetizers (including fried piadina and some salumi), a soup, two pastas, and two meat dishes.


Edited by mb7o (log)

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Just for reference here is a link to Min Liao's review from the Stranger

http://www.thestranger.com/2003-08-07/chow.html

This review appears in the Best Food Writing of 2004 which also I see contains some of Mamster's  work. Congrats Mamster I just noticed.

Speaking of Min Liao, does anyone know if she is still writing? She was my favorite columnist at The Stranger and my favorite food writer in Seattle.

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Alas and alack, I also tried Google, but to no avail. I am wondering if anyone here is cozy with one of Min's former co-workers at The Stranger? They might know something. I hope she is still writing, her work was a continual delight.

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I'm pretty sure the La Spiga column was one of Min Liao's last column's with The Stranger. I thought I remembered hearing that she moved to New York or some such.

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Another Min Liao admirer here. It's a shame if she hasn't continued her food writing.

Getting back to La Spiga, boyfriend and I have gone there a couple of times in the last couple of months. I had some of the pasta with butter and truffles, and I wish I'd liked it as much as Min did. To me it seemed a little bland. Also had a pasta dish with quail that sounded wonderful but just turned out ok--the quail tasted just like chicken. OTOH, boyfriend and I seem to be the only people who like the piadina--it tastes sort of like a chewy cracker to me, if that makes sense. I've had the non-crescione sandwiches and thought the bread-to-filling ratio was fine. Anyway, it seems like the simpler the dish, the more I like it at La Spiga, so I'll probably stick with things like the pasta with beef ragu and the sandwiches there.

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The pasta with butter and truffles is one of my favorite restaurant dishes. Love love love it. But, I do like very simple pastas, I can see how someone might think it a bit plain.

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Sorry, inexplicably posted in the wrong thread. Must have been due to excessive Spanish celebrations last night.


Edited by Abra (log)

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