Sometimes, the urge to enjoy Italian food strikes, and nothing satisfies until you achieve that culinary goal. When that craving descends, count on 10Best to point you in the direction of Bellevue's best Italian restaurants. We understand the desire to have a great meal, and we work hard to bring you the top places to eat in Bellevue. We vet restaurants carefully, and when we recommend popular eateries like Firenze or tell you that Pasta & Co gets good reader feedback, you can believe it.
The Bellevue culinary scene proves vast and varied, featuring genres from most every corner of the globe. Italian always proves a popular option–delighting the whole family and offering comforting fare perfect for any season of the year. In Bellevue, Italian eateries range from casual sandwich spots to 4-star chef-owned restaurants; several well-known national chains join the lineup, too. Restaurants here feature fresh, seasonal and local ingredients, often mixing regional seafood delicacies into tasty pasta dishes and PNW produce on top of cheesy pizza pies. Buon appetito!
Ruth's Chris Steak House – Bellevue
Pasta dishes frequently appear on steakhouses menus, and that goes for Ruth's Chris, too. (Check out their Veal Osso Buco Ravioli, for example.) Whether it's rare or well-done, prime beef is this steak house's trademark. A favorite of the business set, the place exudes class with its soft, rich carpets and paneled private rooms. Each sublime cut of meat boasts sensational flavor and texture thanks to a signature "cooked from the top down" technique. � la carte items include gulf shrimp in creole r�moulade sauce and crispy French-fried onion rings. If you make it to dessert, consider a luscious chocolate praline encore or maybe chocolate chunk bread pudding. According to their website, "The best USDA Prime steak is at Ruth's Chris Steak House in Bellevue, Washington. With our special 500� sizzle and award-winning wine list, we make any occasion an extra-special one." (425-451-1550, 800-544-0808)
John Howie Steak
Although this steakhouse doesn't technically fall under the Italian genre, diners relish a couple pasta and risotto that appear on the menus (like a lunchtime spaghettini). Living up to its tony digs in Bellevue's Bravern complex, John Howie Steak lets diners sink into supple, red or cream-colored leather on banquettes in cozy booths. The suppleness continues with the steaks, making it well worth the drive for a pan-seared slice of melt-in-your-mouth Kobe beef. The restaurant's creator and namesake, chef John Howie, was first known for his phenomenal seafood preparations at Seastar Restaurant and Raw Bar. Turning his focus to beef, Howie became the region's first restaurateur to continually source and serve top-grade beef from Japanese Wagyu cattle. Also find prime rib, custom-aged USDA Prime steaks and cuts from domestic Wagyu-Angus crossbreed beef. Try the USDA Prime Filet Mignon "Oscar Style" entr�e, which features filet mignon medallions, Yukon Gold potato cake, asparagus topped with Dungeness crab legs and a house-made Béarnaise sauce.The wine list features 60-plus wines by the glass and more than 600 bottle selections. (425-440-0880)
Palomino Euro Bistro
Well-attended by patrons of all sorts, this popular destination in Bellevue (as well as downtown Seattle) is perennially full, especially during happy hour. Capitalizing on its combination of Mediterranean and Northwest fare, the wide-ranging menu features paella, fire-roasted garlic chicken, poached seafood ravioli, wild mushroom risotto and fresh Pacific salmon. You'll also find a good selection of both traditional and exotic pizzas. Depending on your mood and your time constraints, choose to partake in the dining room, in the large bar area or in the cafe, which offers the quickest service. Younger customers love the kids' menu, while the over-21 crowd enjoys libations like the Ginger-Pear Martini. (206-623-1300)
Sometimes, when the mood strikes, nothing else will do. If you have a strong urge for great pizza, head to one of 24 Pagliacci's locations, where you can walk up to the counter and order a pie topped with everything from sun-dried tomatoes to goat cheese and roasted garlic. With more than 30 toppings to choose from, the pizza menu is sure to have something you'll love, whether you're a vegetarian, an omnivore or simply an eater with quirky tastes. In addition to great pies, the impressively extensive menu features fresh salads and calzones. Leave room for the locally made gelato! The eatery deliveries to some locations, too. Make orders online at order.pagliacci.com. (206-726-1717, 425-453-1717)
Pasta & Co
Although take-out is the main business at this local chain (now in business for 30-plus years), you can also dine in on fresh pastas, meats, sides and scrumptious desserts. Seasonal changes keep things fresh; past favorites have included penne with smoked mozzarella, beef tenderloin grilled with an herb rub and parmesan smashed potatoes. Already-prepared frozen foods like black bean lasagna and veal cannelloni are an easy solution for an impending dinner party. Be sure to save room for chocolate cupcakes, lemon tarts and ginger crinkle cookies, too. (These amazing desserts are produced for Pasta & Co by Sugar Mountain Bake Shop.) (425-453-8760)
Excellent Italian cuisine is readily available at this romantic restaurant, which is centrally located near the Meydenbauer Center. The homemade ravioli stuffed with wild mushrooms and topped with a tasty tomato sauce comes highly recommend. Diners tasty local flavors in dishes like the Cappellini with Shrimp and Crab, which consists of angel hair pasta tossed with shrimp, fresh Dungeness crab in a light cream sauce. More contemporary than many Italian favorites, this eatery gives a nod to traditional while adding a stylish edge to both the décor and the excellent food. Find free parking in the garage at on 110th Ave. NE. (425-452-9602)
Bis on Main
This simple, elegant bistro offers an appealing mix of American favorites with a menu showing influences from France, Italy and South America. The minimal décor is serene and upscale with white tablecloths, neutral color, and candlelight. Start with a bottle of wine from a list of more than 100, and then try an entrée such as roast duck with cranberry sauce and veal sirloin in wild mushroom sauce. The dessert selection changes daily, but look for the highly recommended pecan pie. Reservations recommended. Insider's tip: Enjoy a twice-a-day happy hour deals as well as SUNDAY HAPPINESS specials, which mean–from 4.30pm until closing–a Bis Rye Manhattan for $9, Stella Artois for $3 and a tasty Steak Frites for $19. (425-455-2033, 425-274-0133)
Bellevue Brewing Company
The Bellevue Brewing Company is a locally-minded venue that serves up tasty brews to complement the tasty food. (Though not a traditional Italian eatery, pizzas figure heavily into their menu.) In their own words, "One of our main goals here at the Bellevue Brewing Company, in addition to brewing world-class beers, serving mouthwatering food, and providing our guests with old fashioned, personal service, is to become a positive force in our local community and beyond." Popular beers range from the Belgian WitBier and the 425 Pale Ale to the Brown and Extra Red ales. Enjoy fare from the NW Charcuterie Plate and the BBC Nachos to the Super Crabby Dip and stone-fired pizzas. ((425) 497-8686)
Experience the warmth of Tuscany – inside a mall? Believe it or not, terra cotta floors, warm beige walls and rustic touches make you forget you're inside a retail emporium. The menu evokes bella Tuscany as well, focusing on grilled meats, thin-crust pizzas and fresh pastas topped with sun-dried tomatoes and gorgonzola. Guests also rave about the fish dishes, including red snapper with tomatoes and olives. The restaurant team promises, "We prepare our food from scratch at each order, so you'll always enjoy the freshest meals, whether it's seafood, steaks or spaghetti, and our kitchen takes special requests." The wine menu features varietals from the owners' storied Italian families as well as from the more modern vineyards of Washington. (425-957-1077)
This intriguing little café is named after a type of Croatian dinner roll, which is a house specialty at Pogacha Restaurant. All of the dishes feature a Croatian twist, including pizzas, sandwiches and pastas. The upscale dining room boasts high ceilings and has plenty of room to accommodate a crowd for parties and other festive events. Dishes are hearty, and you'll definitely want to sample the tempting array of breads. This eatery proves especially popular with families and large groups, and Seahawks fans will want to ask about incentives for watching the games here. Also check out live music on Wednesday nights! (425-455-5670)
About Corinne Whiting
Corinne hails from the other Washington, where she caught the travel bug early on. Corinne studied abroad in Strasbourg, France (undergrad) and in Edinburgh, Scotland (graduate school). She's backpacked around Australia, taught English in Argentina and explored (so far!) countries from Cambodia and Egypt to Turkey and China.
Corinne served as associate editor at Where magazine for five years; as a freelancer, she now writes for publications like National Geographic Traveler and Amtrak's OnTrak. Here in the lovely Northwest, she's attempting to debunk the rain myths, up her coffee and live music quotient and find her Zen near/on the water.
Read more about Corinne Whiting here.
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