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Italian Food and Wine in Seattle


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We're tempted to try Assaggio. Love the look of thier wine list. I hear the place can be very dissapointing. Where else is there with a good wine list, great food and service in the downtown area?

Is there a good store for Italian Vino in Seattle?

David Cooper

"I'm no friggin genius". Rob Dibble

http://www.starlinebyirion.com/

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Although I haven't been yet I hear that Troiani is fantastic. Owned by the same people who run El Gaucho and Waterfront.

I like Assiago but then again I am no expert when it comes to Italian. I think they have nice classic dishes.

Also I haven't been in a while but Tulio was wonderful when I was there and they have a Sept. special going on (Tulio Ristorante marks its 12th anniversary with a prix fixe

four-course menu, $35, throughout September, 1100 Fifth Ave., Seattle.

206-624-5500.)

And I have also had very good dinner at Il Bistro in Pike Place Market

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I've always heard great things about Il Terrazzo Carmine, but am ashamed to say I've never actually been.

Most women don't seem to know how much flour to use so it gets so thick you have to chop it off the plate with a knife and it tastes like wallpaper paste....Just why cream sauce is bitched up so often is an all-time mytery to me, because it's so easy to make and can be used as the basis for such a variety of really delicious food.

- Victor Bergeron, Trader Vic's Book of Food & Drink, 1946

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The traditional place is Il Terrazzo Carmine.

I happen to like Troiani.

Don't forget Cafe Lago. We even get posts from them here.

Silician style - La Vita e Bella. All Italian wine list. Reasonable food prices.

And "little Italy" Luigi's

Edited by tsquare (log)
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it's not downtown, but cafe lago (in montlake) is excellent. ethereal lasagne and a decent selection of wines. italian is not at it's best here - i would skip il terazzo carmine - huge wine list (pioneer square) but the place always depresses me - very old boy network (i'm neither) and i think they're less professional if you don't drop major cash on wine. if you're a big spender - it might be just what you're after. i've only been to assaggio once and had a decent meal there, but like tulio, it's in a hotel so to me feels less local, more touristy.

i've heard great things about la vita e bella (sp?) on second...but i'm not sure how their wine list is.

edited - tsquare - it's like we were just on the phone!! :raz:

Edited by reesek (log)

from overheard in new york:

Kid #1: Paper beats rock. BAM! Your rock is blowed up!

Kid #2: "Bam" doesn't blow up, "bam" makes it spicy. Now I got a SPICY ROCK! You can't defeat that!

--6 Train

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Another option is Mamma Melina's at 50th & Roosevelt. I haven't eaten a full meal there, but the panna cotta was divine and the prices are considerably lower than Troiani or Tulio. It's got nice ambience, but I don't remember anything about the wine list.

I haven't found Italian dining nirvana in Seattle yet and I have a hard time paying Cafe Juanita or Troiani-like prices when you can have a fabulous meal in Italy for considerably less.

Portland, though, they've got great Italian at great prices.

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i'm with mangiabene. tried almost everything -- though not La Vita e Bella -- and i'm still searching for one that truly warms my heart.

Mamma Melina is a terrific red-sauce place, including the music. always reliable, though the wine list could use some expansion.

i used to be bigger on Cafe Lago, but i often found it too busy and was always wanting the menu to be bigger. the pizza's good, but for those prices, i'll go down to Tutta Bella in Columbia City.

i loved Troiani, but found their prices way out of hand. and haven't eaten there since Walter Pisano left, so can't speak to it now.

Assaggio was ok when i tried it, which was a while back. they failed my ultimate Italian restaurant test, which is being able to make a good espresso. (in Seattle!)

many like Il Bistro. it never did a ton for me, but i'm in the minority.

inconceivably, i have yet to try Juanita.

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Jbonne,

I've generally been disappointed too in most Italian offerings here, including Cafe Bizarro, Il Bistro, Al Boccalino, Luigi's Grotto.

Sometimes it's fine to go to more of an Italian-American style eatery -- i.e., Machiavelli, Stella's Trattoria, Trattoria Mitchelli, etc. -- if you're in the mood, but authentic Italian without steep prices seems to be almost non-existent in this town. (I was pretty underwhelmed by Osteria La Spiga as well. Fine, but not special. Certainly more authentic than many joins in town. Same with Serafina -- fine, but not outstanding.)

There are other places I need to try -- Swingside, Ponte Vecchio, Cafe Asteroid, etc. -- but after having so many lackluster experiences, it's hard to get psyched for it. I have heard good things about La Rustica in West Seattle too. I'd certainly like to try Cafe Juanita at some point too.

La Vita e Bella is solid and has good value, but it's not mind-blowing by any means.

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Jbonne,

I've generally been disappointed too in most Italian offerings here, including Cafe Bizarro, Il Bistro, Al Boccalino, Luigi's Grotto.

Sometimes it's fine to go to more of an Italian-American style eatery -- i.e., Machiavelli, Stella's Trattoria, Trattoria Mitchelli, etc.  -- if you're in the mood, but authentic Italian without steep prices seems to be almost non-existent in this town. (I was pretty underwhelmed by Osteria La Spiga as well. Fine, but not special. Certainly more authentic than many joins in town. Same with Serafina -- fine, but not outstanding.)

There are other places I need to try -- Swingside, Ponte Vecchio, Cafe Asteroid, etc. -- but after having so many lackluster experiences, it's hard to get psyched for it. I have heard good things about La Rustica in West Seattle too. I'd certainly like to try Cafe Juanita at some point too.

La Vita e Bella is solid and has good value, but it's not mind-blowing by any means.

forgot about some of those. agree. had a good meal or two at Bizarro a while ago, but the last time the gnocchi i had were something two or three steps below what i've prepared for myself at home.

ditto La Spiga. some highlights, but not in a long while.

but i should thank you, mangiabene, for reminding me about Swingside, about which i have nothing but praise. aside from the tiny size of the venue, the food is terrific and inventive (venison ragu sticks in mind for some reason) and i'm always happy. wine list is great too. so now i've poked a hole in my own theory about Seattle and Italian food.

[edited to indicate "tiny size" meant the building, not the portions.]

Edited by jbonne (log)
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i would skip il terazzo carmine - huge wine list (pioneer square) but the place always depresses me - very old boy network (i'm neither) and i think they're less professional if you don't drop major cash on wine. if you're a big spender - it might be just what you're after.

Isn't it amazing the differences in experiences we can have at the same restaurant....

We are definitely not in the 'old boy network' and order something very moderate from the wine list but I find it a very upbeat and professionally-run restaurant.

They make a terrific ravioli...filled with lamb shank as I remember...YUM

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There are three different kinds of Italian food in Seattle. Kitschy Italian-American, Pretentious and Overwrought Italian-American, and Authentic. We've got some of the first, a fair amount of the second, and almost none of the third.

Category 1: Buca di Beppo, Luigi's Grotto, Mamma Melina, The Olde Spaghetti Factory, the Mitchelli family restaurants (Stella's, Trattoria Mitchelli...), etc.

Category 2: Serafina, Il Terazzo Carmine, Cafe Lago, Assaggio, Brad's Swingside, Al Boccalino, Bizarro, and almost every other place with an "Italian" theme.

Category 3: Salumi, La Spiga, Machiavelli (really!), Tutta Bella.

It really depends on what you are looking for. These categories are not limited to food.

If you are fine with spaghetti and meatballs, underground restaurants, Chianti, and enlarged photos of opera singers, then probably Mamma Melina.

If you want to pay $25 for lamb chops with rosemary and $9 for a glass of Montalpuciano but want to have a cosmopolitan experience... take your pick.

If you are willing to take a chance and embrace the reality of traditional Italian food and possibly skip a little atmosphere in favor of personal attention and an individual experience... again, take your pick.

I would go for Category 3, but that doesn't mean anyone else would. Figure out what you are specifically craving and call around with sneaky questions. Otherwise, take a chance and have a positive attitude. Good luck.

If we aren't supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?

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There's nothing remotely pretentious or overwrought about Cafe Lago. The place is down to earth and comfortable and the staff is gracious. Even a simple dish of fettucine with meatballs is incredibly good, with every component the best it can be. The pizza is ethereal. A foodie friend I took there last week loved it so much that she ended up eating there several more times this week. I think it's a perfect neighborhood restaurant.

"Save Donald Duck and Fuck Wolfgang Puck."

-- State Senator John Burton, joking about

how the bill to ban production of foie gras in

California was summarized for signing by

Gov. Schwarzenegger.

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oh man, how could I forget the Astroid Cafe??? The wine list here is AMAZING!! and he will really take his time with you to decide. The food falls into category 2, I like it...and I like all those restaurants too!

1605 N 45th St, 547-2514

Plus I love that is has only 10 tables and is super small! And of course that astroid on the roof!! haha!

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There's nothing remotely pretentious or overwrought about Cafe Lago. The place is down to earth and comfortable and the staff is gracious. Even a simple dish of fettucine with meatballs is incredibly good, with every component the best it can be. The pizza is ethereal. A foodie friend I took there last week loved it so much that she ended up eating there several more times this week. I think it's a perfect neighborhood restaurant.

i've had notably mixed results there, enough so that i finally took it off my list. staff can vary widely. food is generally quite good, but i *do* find the vibe to be way more pretentious than the food justifies.

it's just pasta and pizza, and a very limited menu at that. while i'm all for kitchen pride, it all seems a bit precious. but perhaps they've mellowed in the past year.

of course, i'm in what chuck classified as Category 3, so i expect my neighborhood joints to be very low key, in addition to being crazy good ...

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Someone here tried the 1/2 priced certificate at Ristorante Pellini - 28th floor, 180 degree view and raved about it. Still some left.

710KIRO offer

That was me and we're looking forward to returning this winter to enjoy the view by night...should be very romantic.

Yep, I thought the food/service was the real-deal.

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No one here has mentioned La Medusa, so I thought i should.

I am no judge of a good wine list (besides my own criteria of being able to afford a good glass of wine), and I don't know if the food qualifies as strictily Italian, since it gets promoted as Silician soul food, but in my one outing there I found the food at La Medusa excellent.

The couscous with lamb and lentils is something I have been rememembing fondly for several months now.

Robin Tyler McWaters

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i *do* find the vibe to be way more pretentious than the food justifies.

it's just pasta and pizza, and a very limited menu at that. while i'm all for kitchen pride, it all seems a bit precious. but perhaps they've mellowed in the past year.

Wow, pretentious? That's about the last word I would use to describe the staff there.

And yes, the menu is somewhat limited, but I find that there's enough variety to suit just about every taste. And as it changes seasonally (almost weekly) there's plenty for us regulars to keep trying.

~A

Anita Crotty travel writer & mexican-food addictwww.marriedwithdinner.com

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food is generally quite good, but i *do* find the vibe to be way more pretentious than the food justifies.

jbonne, please, I can take it, ( I think..) describe what you find pretentious about Lago's vibe, and if its fixable, I will fix it. Work with me.

Carla

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No one here has mentioned La Medusa, so I thought i should.

I am no judge of a good wine list (besides my own criteria of being able to afford a good glass of wine), and I don't know if the food qualifies as strictily Italian, since it gets promoted as Silician soul food, but  in my one outing there I found the food at La Medusa excellent.

I haven't been to La Medusa since the change of ownership, but loved it before at least. Great neighborhood joint and always really fresh tasting food.

Since this thread is becoming comprehensive, I have to throw in a plug for my neighborhood place, Filiberto's. Excellent pizzas that I believe rival or surpass Tutta Bella and a slew of southern Italian classics done with great care. Best bruscetta I've had outside of Italy too, it's all about the garlic rubbed grilled bread. Just steer clear of the fish dishes and you will eat very well.

Edited by tighe (log)

Most women don't seem to know how much flour to use so it gets so thick you have to chop it off the plate with a knife and it tastes like wallpaper paste....Just why cream sauce is bitched up so often is an all-time mytery to me, because it's so easy to make and can be used as the basis for such a variety of really delicious food.

- Victor Bergeron, Trader Vic's Book of Food & Drink, 1946

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jbonne, please, I can take it, ( I think..) describe what you find pretentious about Lago's vibe, and if its fixable, I will fix it. Work with me.

absolutely, and i should preface it all by saying that (1) it's been about a year since i was last in, so everything may have changed and the problems may all have been fixed; and (2) my pretense-o-meter is set to fine sensitivity, so all sorts of stuff can set it off. (a more extreme case in point: servers trying to correct my pronounciation of wines that i know how to pronounce because i have *asked the winemaker* about it.) as prententious goes, there are far more frustrating examples to be found in Seattle.

all of which is to say any recollections (1) are potentially outdated, and (2) don't rise to the level of the truly bad, just to the level of my own personal consumery quirks.

first, much of my impression comes from phone calls i made to the restaurant, either to make reservations or to check hours. of course, now i can't remember whether reservations were accepted, but for some reason i recall making them or trying to make them and having an exasperating experience. (a "no reservations" policy is another gripe of mine, but i'll leave that out of it.) ditto when i checked hours and was told, rather snippily, that the hours were until 10 but the kitchen closed at 9:30. fair point to tell a caller, but the tone was so haughty and dismissive that i recall actually muttering some unpublishables after i hung up.

phone calls during dinner service are obviously a pain in the butt. but it's often the savvy customer who calls, rather than just showing up and demanding service.

i also recall several lengthy waits to be seated.

servers in the bar area, where there's also food service, seemed curt and distracted. way better in the other room, though i still felt i was getting more explanation than i needed on the food and less than i needed on the wine list, which as i recall contained a fair amount of unusual Italian stuff. (unusual is good, btw. it just requires some detailed explanation.)

i always enjoyed the food -- and lately i've been craving that sort of pizza, big-time. my frustration was that the focus on freshness almost by definition limited my options. problem there being, if i'm actually out for a pasta-type dinner, i'm looking for a broad range of pasta options, preferably away from the red sauce and cream realms. was always seeking things like that, but only finding 1 or 2.

all that said, i feel i'm about due for a return visit. there are places i will never eat in again (Cactus) and places that i enjoy but that lose favor for one reason or another (Nishino). on the latter, i hate to stay angry for too long, because staffs and kitchens and menus change, problems get fixed and good things are improved on.

for all i know, i may find Lago delightful again, and i've just been depriving myself for a year.

that help at all?

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jbonne,

Thank you for being specific about the way you were treated at my place. I really do apologize and hope you will give us another chance. Please let me clarify a few things.

We have never closed the kitchen before the restaurant is closed. In fact it is my intention to accept customers up to 15 minutes after closing, unless we have had such a dead night that the kitchen has packed it up by closing. But we would never turn someone away before the specified closing time. I wish I knew who told you such a mean spirited thing, but I'll make sure it is never said again. I hate to see hungry people turned away at night. It makes me sad. And it hurts my pocketbook.

Lago has accepted reservations for almost four years now....It is rare to have to wait for a table more than 10 minutes if you have a res.

Sorry someone tried to correct your pronunciation, thats a definite no-no. I always tell my waitstaff that the Tuscans pronounce things different from the Milanese from the Sardinians, so on, so honor the spirit and don't be a snob.

I stand behind my current waitstaff, I feel they are all very kind and smart. Sometimes Lago is too busy and we are not prepared, so they may seem hurried and the kitchen can be slow, which leaves us open to fair criticism.

Try us again, we are doing the 20 dollar "Dinner at 8" neighborhood restaurant deal, guarenteed to be a really busy September. Make a reservation and please come up to the pizza oven to introduce yourself. I work Tuesdays, Thursdays, Sat and Sunday.

Best,

Carla

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