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Volterra


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Volterra in Ballard is now open. Indeed it has been for three whole days now, as our server explained. We were planning to hit Carta de Oaxaca down the block, but discovered it was closed on Sundays and went to Volterra instead, not knowing anything about what it was. It was kind of a crapshoot, since the place looked like it might be good from the window, but there was no menu posted for passersby to examine.

I think there is some definite promise here, but the third day is far too early to judge. I did appreciate seeing wild boar on the menu, as it is one of my favorite meats. They have also jumped on the Salumi bandwagon for their cured meat needs, which seems like the obvious choice. Warm wild mushroom salad was loaded with warm fungal goodness, but perhaps didn't need quite so many greens. Asparagus was flavorful and al dente. For dessert the poached pear was a favorite.

We thought they went far beyond the call of duty in giving us a free bottle of wine to make up for a service problem that I would think is quite common at this stage. They clearly want to be taken seriously and treat their customers right. That gesture alone probably guaranteed that I will make the effort to return.

Once they've had a chance to settle in, I'll have more to say.

Chief Scientist / Amateur Cook

MadVal, Seattle, WA

Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code

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On my way to a show at the Tractor on Thurs, I discovered that Volterra- Chef Don Curtiss' new place has opened. They have worked miracles transforming the old Burk's space. The warm colors and soft lighting lured us in from the street. I stopped in and made a reservation for Friday night.

My friend and I started out with a signature cocktail at the bar. He had a Limoncello Rosemary Drop and I had a Volerra Sky. Kathy Casey did their cocktails for them- probably the best Ive had.

We moved into the dining room and were guided through the menu by a knowledgable server- can't remember his name. He told us that Volterra is named after the town in Tuscany where Chef and his wife were married. The menu is fairly extensive and each dish was very interesting.

We started with the Bruschetta Volterrana which had grilled artichokes and a heavenly porcini mushroom and truffle puree. Absolutely delightful.

I had the Panzanella salad - tasted just like I had in Tuscany- and my friend had the Sauteed spinach with currants & pine nuts.

We moved on to the Wild Boar with a superb gorgonzola cassis and dijon sauce. The best thing I've eaten in years. We also tried the Shrimp pouches---fresh pasta stuffed with shrimp, walnuts and leeks in a tomato shellfish broth. Wow!

Don's wife stopped by our table to check on us and offered us a taste of their housemade limoncello. What a treat. She answered our questions on the light fixtures-- they are made of alabaster and were shipped from Volterra.

We finished off with the Chestnut pannacotta which had a unique flavro. Apparently it has chestnut honey they import from Tuscany. I think I will have that everytime.

No service issues for us. Top notch food, great atmosphere and incredible warmth. This is my new favorite spot in Seattle.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I thought just about everything on the menu sounded great - tough choices to make.

Starters at the table included shrimp with orange, green olive relish (missing the listed fennel) on a bed of mache. 3 very good shrimp. White bean-olive oil soup - smokey and creamy. Sauteed spinach with currents and pine nuts, a hint of citrus.

Pastas - housemade noodles with duck sauce - more of a red sauce with duck, but quite tasty, and risotto with pork (forget which lovely fatty part) and favas - very very good. Shared the boar in mustard gorgonzola sauce. Nice.

Dessert was a lone poached pear stuffed with mascarpone and chocolate bits - too adult for my sweet tooth.

Wine came hand carried from Italy - $15 corkage fee. Nice glassware.

Service was fine - we set a pretty casual air ourselves. No bread refills or inquiries - also no olive oil or butter (Jim, are you listening?). No visits from the owners. Plates are quite heavy - a challenge for the bussers removing more than a couple of plates at once. Made us almost hold our breathe watching the maneuvers.

I will be happy to return and explore the menu some more.

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Much thanks to all who recommended this wonderful Tuscan place. We went last night and the food and service were fantastic!

Started with two of their signature cocktails, the Lemoncello/rosemary lemon drop and their version of the traditional manhattan to accompany some of the best polenta I have ever had. Smothered in what looked like chantrels and a wonderful sauce. Came highly recommended by our waiter (who we think was David). He was the kind of FOH staff I love. Made great recommendations all evening, was very knowledgeable about all the food and wine.

For our entree I tried the wild boar done in the mustard/gorgonzola sauce. Totally different from the last wild boar I had in a restaurant in Firenze itself but equally good. My bride had the veal scaloppine and also loved it. David recommended a superb Tuscan wine to go along with my boar and he was right on the button. Only problem is, we aren't sure what it was called. Can't wait to go back and find out.

We finished up with their berry panna cotta and a glass of their house made limoncello. WOW!

Thank you again for a wonderful recommendation. We will be going back and telling friends. :biggrin:

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Glad that you enjoyed your dinner. I am craving the Wild Boar---I just cant get enough of that dreamy sauce.

I looked at the brunch menu they posted in the window. Looks great. I am planning to bring out of town guests on Satuday for the Chestnut flour pancakes topped with flambe bannas and chestnut honey flavored marscapone. My friends are pancake lovers so we'll see how they stack up.

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When I was there on a Sat night around 8pm, all of the seats in the dining room were full and it was definitely lively & bustling but we could still have a conversation without a problem. If you want something more intimate, there are 2 beautiful tables in each of the windows by the front door. That is my favorite place to sit. In the evening, the alabaster lighting glows and it's romantic.

I saw a waiter bring out a bday dessert w/ a candle for someone so you might mention its your anniversary when you make a reservation.

Prices are outstanding. Entrees range from $13-24. Their new addition to the menu is the Delmonico Steak prepared Fiorintina style. The waiter said it's the exact same steak that Jak's sells and I know from experience that it's a minimum of $10 more at Jak's.

Their website has their menus on it. Not sure if it's updated witht he new ones yet. www.volterrarestaurant.com

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For our entree I tried the wild boar done in the mustard/gorgonzola sauce.

Wow, I wonder where they are getting wild boar? could it be farm raised and they are just calling it 'wild' boar??

Born Free, Now Expensive

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For our entree I tried the wild boar done in the mustard/gorgonzola sauce.

Wow, I wonder where they are getting wild boar? could it be farm raised and they are just calling it 'wild' boar??

I asked the same question. The waiter said the Boar come from Texas and are hunted via helicopter.

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I looked at the brunch menu they posted in the window.  Looks great.  I am planning to bring out of town guests on Satuday for the Chestnut flour pancakes topped with flambe bannas and chestnut honey flavored marscapone.  My friends are pancake lovers so we'll see how they stack up.

David and I went to brunch at Volterra last weekend, and I had the chestnut pancakes with apples and mascarpone. They were really dense and had a strong flavor that I assume was the chestnut flour. I enjoyed them with just the apple/mascarpone topping and the dusting of powdered sugar, but David liked them better with lot of maple syrup to them.

We also had some perfectly cooked fennel sausage, and their frittata with prosciutto. I can't wait to try them for dinner.

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Also ate there a couple of weeks back, had the wide egg noodles with red/duck sauce. Delicous--scarfed it down wholesale. And the tiramisu, which the waiter opined would be the best I've ever had. It was very good. Service slightly oversolicitous for my tastes, but just a little--very friendly, prompt, and well handled. I only glanced through the wine list but it looked smart, good spread of maybe 25 italian wines (plus new world stuff). Markups--$10-12 retail bottles at $28, $50 retail bottles at $80. Reasonable.

(Their web site is kind of ridiculous, btw. [Hope they're listening.] Their address and phone number do not appear anwywhere. Just gives their hours on the front page. You can download PDFs to see their menus. [Yawn.] You can get driving directions, but only by downloading a Microsoft Word file, and still no address or phone number--much less email address. )

But once you find them they're yummy and darned pleasant.

Steve

"Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon." --Dalai Lama

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(Their web site is kind of ridiculous, btw. [Hope they're listening.] Their address and phone number do not appear anwywhere. Just gives their hours on the front page. You can download PDFs to see their menus. [Yawn.] You can get driving directions, but only by downloading a Microsoft Word file, and still no address or phone number--much less email address. )

But once you find them they're yummy and darned pleasant.

Steve

Steve, is this the website you went to? Volterra

The address and phone are right there under their logo. Maybe they did read your post and fixed it immediately :raz:

Jan

Jan

Seattle, WA

"But there's tacos, Randy. You know how I feel about tacos. It's the only food shaped like a smile....A beef smile."

--Earl (Jason Lee), from "My Name is Earl", Episode: South of the Border Part Uno, Season 2

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<geekout>

I see what Steve is talking about... they have, perhaps, designed and tested their site only on one browser (IE/PC) probably. On my computer, the address and phone number are almost completely obscured by the big logo graphic.

If anyone from Volterra is listening, I would be happy to fix your website for a free meal!! HTMLizing those PDFs and Word docs would be pretty easy....

</geekout>

Back to the world of food: the reviews all sound excellent. I'm planning on checking the place out this week....

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Just a note about their prices. We felt they were very fair. Two of us on Saturday night with one drink each, split appetizer, two glasses of wine, two entrees, split dessert, split glass of their own lemonchello (needs to be colder and served in a frosted glass.) Total for all that was $95. Very fair. You can read what we had above.

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Based on the reviews here, we tried Volterra tonight and it met all of our expectations. The noodles with duck sauce (with a few chunks of duck) and the wild boar were excellent. Nice setting, fine service and excellent food.

We had a nice chat with ?? (the chef's spouse) on the way out. Definitely will go again, especially since it is close to home.

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It sounds lovely. There was also a nice review of Crush in the paper today, so I'm wavering between the two.

Well, we went to Volterra for dinner tonight because we couldn't get a reservation at Crush until 10:00 PM...and this was 3 days ago!. Volterra was delightful: we had the bruschetta volteranna (toasted Tuscan bread with a puree of wild mushrooms, truffles and roasted artchokes), risotto with fava beans, orechiette al ragu d'agnello, filetto di manzo and frozen chestnut panna cotta for dessert...oh, yes, and the divine Allegrini Amarone '99 to accompany all. All very tasty and we'll probably go again. As a critique, though, the risotto was a little salty, but other than that, all was perfection. Attentive, but not obtrusive service, spacious table placement, comfortable seating...you get the picture. Regarding Crush, I was told that there is about a 1 1/2 week lead time to make a weekend reservation at a "normal" dinner time. Ah, well, next time...

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  • 2 weeks later...

Had another outstanding dinner at Volterra this week. My jaw nearly dropped when our waiter mentioned they now have a Captains List which included several rare bottles of Leonetti. I wish I had a special occasion coming up so I had a reason to spring for one of those babies. I may have to create one :raz:

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  • 1 month later...

Last Thursday (07/14/05) Little Miss Foodie and MR Little Miss Foodie along with myself and my special guy (Adiabatic) went to try Volterra. I have to say that we had a great time, had some good food and I think we would all go back again.

We made reservations for 6 pm and LMS and her MR were on time but I made me and mine late by about 20 minutes. The hostess was gracious about it and our servier (Regina - whom we all really enjoyed) did not rush us or make me feel badly for being that late (which was super nice). The outside table (I think there were five 2 tops out there) were full and the bar was about 1/2 full and the dining room had probably 2 or 3 table sat when we rolled in at 6:20. By 7:00/7:15 the place was packed. Noise levels were fine. We liked the room, the art and our table by the open windows.

We all had the Tuscan Limoncello Rosemary Drop cocktail: housemade limonchello, vodka, fresh rosemary, lemon sour and a rosemary sugar rimmed glass. There was a nice fresh spring of rosemary as a garnish that you could dip and swirl in your glass. It was delicious!!!!

Nice bread and olive oil on the table to nibble.

For our appetizer we ordered the Homemade “Little Bite” Selection (Antipasti Assortiti) which is a daily selection of Chef Don’s seasonal antipasti items - you order it per person - so we ordered for four. Let me say that this was wonderful. The large rectangular platter it was served on was very nice -just white but huge and pretty. It had little pork/fennel remoulades, grilled prawns (i forget with what but they were good and cooked just right -not overdone at all), proscuitto wrapped figs, salumi from salumi - the mortadella and one of the salami - I think the one with fennel) a two cheeses that our server told us the names of but I forget them, one was a parm or pecerino something close to it and one was a "streko-something" somewhat like a very mild brie. Hmmm - I think there might have been one other item but it escapes me right now.

LITTLE MISS FOODIE - Feel free to jump in and correct any of my mistakes or make additions to what I forgot!

We ordered a couple of pastas to share - LMF and her Mr LMF ordered the Spaghettini coi Granchi - Thin spaghetti pasta tossed in a spicy tomato sauce with Dungeness crab and fresh basil; drizzled with Tuscan organic extra virgin olive oil. It was ok - the tomato sauce was nice but it overwhelmed the crab.

Me and my guy ordered a special pasta with Tagliolini (sp) (I think that is the right pasta - small like the thin spaghetti but square rather than round). It was prepared with small shaving of razor clams, pieces of prawn, olive oil, pepper flakes.

Very good!!! I would go back for that - we all really liked it.

Dinner - Which I am stealing off their online menu -

Gran Misto di Pesce al Cartoccio

Mussels, clams, scallops, prawns and halibut baked in parchment with tomatoes,

garlic, fresh herbs, white wine and butter

Wonderful!! Our waitress cut open the parchment and brought a small bowl for the shells. We all tried bites of everyones dinner (yes we are THOSE people) and I think we agreed this was the best entree.

Cinghiale al Gorgonzola)

Wild boar tenderloin roasted and served with a gorgonzola and mustard cream

sauce, Yukon Gold potato gratin and seasonal market vegetables

Quite good - all the meats were cooked about MR and they all came out pretty right on. I liked the sauce - not overwhelming just flavorful.

Selle d’Agnello al Dragoncello)

Pan seared boneless lamb saddle with a tarragon, mustard and cognac sauce,

Volterra mashed potatoes and seasonal market vegetables

YUMMY - cooked just right and the sauce was delicious. Lamb was tender and not overcooked.

The last dinner wasn't on the menu to steal the description but it was a Veal Chop (I don't know what the sauce was but it had the Volterra mashed potatos and the seasonal vegetables). It was also quite good.

The veg was sauteed spinach with some red onion, olive oil and probably something I didn't detect. I don't usually like cooked spinach but I gave it a try and it wasn't too "mushy" which is what turns me off of it normally. I had a couple bites and it was fine. I would guess if you liked spinach you would have liked this one.

All the food was good - but I think the 3 meat entrees were a little more "fall or winter" as they all had a brown sauce over them and were probably a bit heavy for spring. The seafood in parchment was just about perfect.

Wine - LITTL E MISS FOODIE will have to step in and let everyone know what we had - I never seem to remember! Our server was knowledgable on our first bottle and admitted she hadn't tried the 2nd bottle. We offered her some to taste so whe would know in the future what it tasted like and could talk about it. The 2nd bottle was a bit warm and when we mentioned it she was nice about it. I think when she tried the wine we gave her in the back she also recognized it was warm, took another bottle, put it in the cooler for about 10/15 minutes and brought us out a new bottle. Dare I mention we had drank most of the original one by then? We drank the 3rd bottle (on the house) and it was much better. Not so loose in the mouth and the flavors were a bit more "together" which probably isn't a wine term but oh well

Dessert - berries with creme anglais & whipped cream (just ok - some of the berries were sweet, some were tart) and the Semifreddo with Khaula and chocolate covered espresso beans. Quite good - not too sweet, firm and cold.

As we were winding down one of the owners (dare I guess Managing Partner Michelle Quisenberry ) came by the table. I had stepped away for a minute and missed the introductions. Talked for a few, thanked us for coming in - was nice and gracious.

I think I can say we all liked the service and the experience and the food.

I will definately go back.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I FINALLY made it to Volterra last night and want to weigh in on this place. Overall, we had a great meal. Loved the food, the space, the pacing of the meal. Service was good if a bit too eager. I didn’t find the room too noisy.

In detail, starting with the good:

-Our table of 3 started with a round of cocktails including the rosemary lemon drop and the bellini. The lemon drop was a knockout, bellini just OK. Everyone liked the bread and olive oil on the table.

-Appetizers were the mussels with sausage, eggplant with goat cheese and meat plate for 1. I liked the mussels best, though all were well received. The quality of the mussels was excellent- very fresh, plump and juicy.

-Entrees ordered were the pear ravioli, steak and the seafood in parchment. Steak was the clear favorite by our table. Excellent cut of meat, cooked perfectly. Seafood in parchment was also very good. Again- quality of seafood (esp. the clams and shrimp) was high. Pear ravioli was nice but did not impress me too much. A bit on the bland side for being so rich. I was expecting more veg on the sides of the two secondi. The steak came with a few fried potato cubes (I was hoping to sample the mashed so many have raved about) and about 2 pieces of some sauteed green. The seafood had no accompaniment.

Last, we shared 2 desserts- the chestnut panna cotta and tiramisu. The panna cotta was divine! Tiramisu just OK- since when does Tiramisu have whipped cream on it? Ours was covered in it. Those who ordered coffee said it was good and loved the silver tray it came on.

OK, and now the bad:

-Service was indeed oversolicitous. At one point my husband was chewing on his steak bone (it was that good) and the busboy tried to take his plate. He had to hold up a hand and say ‘Uh, no, I’m still eating!’

-Our waiter recommended a bottle of wine but failed to indicate which one it was one the menu. We later found out it was $63. It was tasty, but given the number of decent choices under $50 we would not have ordered it otherwise. Our bad, I guess, but it did bother me a little.

-2 of us ordered espresso at the end of the meal. One a single, the other a double. On the bill, we were charged for 3 espressos, presumably two of them for the double. My beef with this is that the double espresso came out at $6! I didn’t say anything to the waiter but this sort of thing really disturbs me.

-Last, but not least. My 2 companions (both born and bred in Scotland) asked the server what kind of whisky they offered. He said something vague, like, “Oh, lots of things: Laphroiag, whatever.” My husband persists and says, “yes, but what kinds specifically?” I interject to let the waiter know these guys are serious about their single malts! He runs off to double check and returns to say, "I’m sorry but we have no scotch. May I suggest Maker’s Mark instead?” I was pretty surprised they had NO single malts. We double checked the bar on the way out and it was true. A restaurant of this caliber should have a couple basics, no?

Total bill was just over $200 sans tip for 3 cocktails, 3 apps, 3 entrees, one bottle of wine, 2 desserts and 2 coffees. We will definitely return, but will watch the bill a bit more closely next time.

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  • 5 months later...

After hearing many good things here and elsewhere about Volterra, we finally got over to Ballard to try it last Sunday night. (It's not that we never go to Ballard. It's that when we do go we have a hard time not going to La Carta de Oaxaca.)

We were very disappointed.

The meal was... okay. Not bad. Parts of it were even good. But it wasn't the great experience that we had been hoping for based on its reputation. If it had cost two third as much, I would have come away feeling more pleased about it. But for the money, there's other places I'd rather go.

The four of us shared the mixed antipasti to start, and this was the highlight of the meal. I really liked both varieties of stuffed mushrooms and the white bean salad especially. The main courses, though, were lackluster. I tried the lobster ravioli in lobster cream sauce. The pasta was dry and I couldn't taste the lobster. My husband's wild boar was way overcooked and dried out. The only part of anyone's main course that everyone really liked was the mashed potatoes that came as a side dish -- I believe they were mashed with sour cream, and the richness there managed to work pretty well with the very light texture of the potatoes.

In summary, though, we won't be going back. For Italian food around these parts, give me Lago or La Spiga any day.

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All of my friends and family have absolutely raved about Volterra and I finally had a chance to dine there last week. It was everything that I had expected and MORE.

From the moment we walked in, we were greeted warmly by the hostesses and our waiter was outstanding. He was able to answer all of the questions we had about the food, wine, and decor. He even shared the story of the restaurant, including the stunning alabaster light fixtures and introducted us to Michelle, coowner and wife of the Chef.

We started with the pate palatte, nightly antipasti, and polenta custard with wild mushroom sauce. Each of the starters were great and I wanted to drink the mushroom sauce. We split a Ceasar and a roasted beet salad and shared a bowl of "Oil" soup. WOW! The soup was like nothing that I've ever had. White beans, pancetta, croutons and that grassy olive oil was so simple yet bursting with flavor. However, the highlight for me was the Wild Boar Tenderloin. The waiter suggested it cooked Medium Rare and it was done to perfection. It tasted more like beef than pork to me...not gamey. The sauce was absolutely to die for. A creamy sauce of gorgonzola, mustard and cassis. I admit, I soaked up every drop with my bread. I ordered it with the mashed potatoes which were lightly scented with truffle oil and fantastic. We also had the Beef Tenderloin medallion covered with a thin piece of lardo and had a chianti demi glaze. My husband said it was so tender he didnt' need his knife. Our friends had the rabbit special and the Chestnut fettucine with venison ragu and they were terrific as well.

The wine list is probably one of the best values I've seen. We couldn't pass up the Shafer Relentless 2002 for only $95. They have about 150 wines on their list and priced very reasonable.

We were too stuffed to eat dessert, but did order espressos so we could check out the coffee service that everyone is talking about. It's served on a small silver tray, with beautiful silver creamers, demitasse spoon, ramekin of brown/white sugar cubes and a cookie.

They've covered all of the little details from the beautiful italian salt caddies on the tables, frette napkins, spigeleau glassware, gorgeous steak knives, glowing alabaster and the best coffee service in town.

I HIGHLY recommend a trip to Ballard to visit Volterra. In my opinion, they deserve the praise they've received.

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