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Seattle Says "Grazie" to its Best Italian Restaurants



Sometimes, the urge to have Italian food strikes, and nothing satisfies until you get it. Crusty bread dipped in olive oil followed by a heaping bowl of hand-made pasta topped with fresh herbs, colorful vegetables and finely-grated cheese; what can compare? When this craving strikes, you can count on 10Best to point you in the direction of Seattle's most recommended Italian restaurants. We understand the desire to have a great meal, and we work hard to bring you the top places to eat in Seattle. We vet restaurants carefully for quality, and when we recommend popular eateries like Assaggio Ristorante or tell you that Serafina Osteria & Enoteca gets good reader feedback, you can believe it. We'll make sure you find - and savor - what's best. Follow this list of 10 fantastic spots to virtually travel to the lovely country of Italy, where chefs have made an art form out of pleasing others' senses. These venues not only expose diners to Italian flavors on their plates, but also in the sounds and sights that they will absorb inside, thanks to each unique ambience. We recommend showing up hungry, thirsty and, above all else, willing and ready to enjoy the finer things in life. Buon appetito!


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10
Montlake


If lines are any indication of the quality of the cuisine found here (and they certainly are, in our opinion), then you can expect a wonderfully authentic meal. The relaxed restaurant Cafe Lago has been a favorite in this area for many years, thanks in part to the light, homemade lasagna that has diners coming back for more. Their wood-fired pizzas are also legendary and boast crisp crusts and savory toppings. The antipasti, which come in substantial portions and can be ideal to split among groups, attract diners thanks to terrific flavors, as do the house-made pastas (including the raviolis and the gnocchi).

Recommended for Italian because: Cafe Lago boasts light, homemade lasagna and wood-fired pizzas. This popular spot also serves not-to-be-missed gnocchi.

Corinne's expert tip: Split antipasti dishes in order to sample a variety of flavors; they come in substantial portions.

Read more about Café Lago →


Café Juanita
Photo courtesy of Bruce Miyahara


Named for the creek it rests beside, this fantastic restaurant is influenced by Italian cuisine, although it's not the red-sauce-and-cheese variety. Instead, dishes are more refined, featuring first-rate ingredients and careful preparation. Among the offerings you'll find: silky foie gras, sweetbreads in marsala sauce, seared yellowfin tuna and bacon-wrapped roasted rabbit. Accompanying dishes include such delicacies as fava beans, polenta, asparagus, artichokes and a medley of earthy mushrooms. Desserts follow suit and include several Italian classics: tiramisu, panna cotta and berries laced with balsamic vinegar. The excellent wine list offers a perfect accompaniment, whether you decide on an Italian favorite or regional vintage.

Recommended for Italian because: At Cafe Junaita, the owner's passion for Northern Italian food and wine comes through along with a commitment to organics and sustainability.

Corinne's expert tip: Check out the website for upcoming events like dinners with local chefs and winemakers.

Read more about Café Juanita →


Assaggio Ristorante

Intimate, romantic and adorned with Renaissance artwork, Assaggio brings you the best of Italy without your ever having to leave Seattle! Owned and managed by Mauro Golmarvi, the restaurant guarantees diners the best Italian fare. The menu offers a range of pasta, chicken, veal and seafood entrees (among other options), but must-try dishes include pappardella bosciaola (pasta flavored with mushrooms, Marsala and Barolo wine) and agnello osso buco, the traditional favorite made with lamb instead of veal. Marco's frequent trips to Italy also ensure that a wealth of Italian wines are available to complement any dish, so be prepared to get wined and dined.

Read more about Assaggio Ristorante →


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Tavolata (Belltown)
Photo courtesy of Geoffrey Smith


In Belltown, Ethan Stowell has done it once again by wowing diners at his Italian gem Tavol?ta. Here, pasta reigns--from rigatoni to casarecce, conchiglie to linguini. A restaurant whose name means "to gather around a table," Tavol?ta is an ideal space for large parties and private events. Monthly Sunday Feast dinners mean four-course family meals served at the communal table (that seats up to 26 diners), perfectly embodying the venue's philosophy. Enjoy nightly happy hours (from 5 to 7 p.m.) as well as dishes like brushcetta and salumi boards to start, rigatoni and potato gnocchi for pasta dishes, salmon and beef short ribs as entrees and grilled carrots as a side.

Recommended for Italian because: Tavolata boasts a buzzing scene and one of the city's hottest chefs. Enjoy delightful pasta dishes at private or communal tables.

Corinne's expert tip: Enjoy the monthly Sunday Feast, a four-course family meal served at the tavol?ta (communal table) where seating is limited to 26 diners.

Read more about Tavolata (Belltown) →


6
Pioneer Square


The romantic atmosphere, enhanced by classical guitar music, may be the first thing you notice upon entering this venue. The second will surely be the aroma of perfectly-prepared Italian dishes. Excellent service and wonderful selections hint at the restaurant's popularity, which extends to celebrities and local residents alike. The menu features a range of pastas and antipasti, along with such delectable entrees as roasted duck, rack of lamb, beef tenderloin, fresh fish and even sweetbreads. Arrive prepared to savor this wonderful dining experience! Complimentary valet parking is available after 5 p.m. Outdoor seating is also a draw in Seattle's warmer months.

Recommended for Italian because: As you enter this culinary destination, you'll notice a romantic atmosphere and the aroma of perfectly-prepared Italian dishes.

Corinne's expert tip: Take advantage of complimentary valet parking, available after 5 p.m.

Read more about Il Terrazzo Carmine →




While there are no wolves being braised here, just the thought â€" How would one cook a wolf, where would you start? â€" gets to the core of chef-owner Ethan Stowell's philosophy for this branch of his Seattle foodie empire (Tavolata, Anchovies and Olives). He breaks things down to their base elements, deconstructing dishes to the bare essence of their perfectly-chosen ingredients. Stowell achieves this through a simple and rustic take on Italian-inspired plates, served in a sleek, urban-lodge of a space outfitted in rough-stacked stone and unfinished vertical wood paneling. Start with the simplicity of dishes like the Celery Root Soup. Savor the Soft Boiled Eggs with parsley, pine nuts and crispy potato. Dinner-sized plates that rotate through include options like seared scallops with roasted beets, pearl onions and balsamic and grilled pork belly with honey crisp apple and Treviso, a red Italian radicchio.

Recommended for Italian because: Ethan Stowell offers his simple and rustic take on Italian-inspired plates, served in a sleek, urban-lodge of a space.

John's expert tip: Take note that, as part of their goal to provide equitable wages for all members of the team, Ethan Stowell Restaurants include a 20% service charge on each guest check.

Read more about How to Cook a Wolf →


Tulio Ristorante
Photo courtesy of Tulio


Polished woods and hand-crafted detailing characterize this lovely restaurant, which features an open kitchen, along with upstairs and downstairs dining rooms (and some patio seating in warmer months). Frequented by professionals at lunch, Tulio is known for its authentic cuisine and attentive service. The menu includes such treats as sweet-potato gnocchi with sage butter, roasted chicken with lemon risotto and marinated Washington lamb sirloin. You'll also find pizzas and calzones on the lunch menu. Tulio makes the perfect start to any special evening occasion, especially when combined with an evening at one of the several nearby theaters. Look into the eatery's Italian-inspired wine-and-spirits program that showcases grappa flights, "naughty negronis," house-infused limoncello and other delicious temptations.

Recommended for Italian because: Tulio Ristorante offers a polished decor, open kitchen and scrumptious eats. Head here for special occasions.

Corinne's expert tip: Check online for special events like daily grappa happy hours as well as frequent packages that combine dining deals with a night at the theater!

Read more about Tulio Ristorante →


3
Waterfront


Funky and hip, this Italian eatery features rustic food and boasts live entertainment in the adjacent lounge. The interior has a certain bohemian charm, but the best area to dine is on the rooftop deck, which affords a magnificent view of Puget Sound. Begin your meal with bruschetta or the antipasto plate of savory morsels. Entrees include must-haves like Tuscan grilled chicken, gnocchi with wild mushrooms, roasted pork loin and Muscovy duck. You'll also find a vast range of pastas as well as a daily risotto special that's usually a great bet! Comforting desserts include such fare as bread pudding and apple crisp.

Recommended for Italian because: The Pink Door offers everything you'd want in a downtown hot spot. The dishes are decadent, and the ambience funky and hip.

Corinne's expert tip: Try to score a table on the rooftop deck for fantastic views of the Puget Sound! Check out the weekly entertainment schedule online for some aerial magic and live music, too.

Read more about The Pink Door →




Comfortable and unpretentious, Serafina has been a Seattle favorite for years. This charming outpost has become one of the main culinary draws of the Eastlake neighborhood, and the adjoining Cicchetti Kitchen and Bar is an excellent place for happy hour cocktails as a pre-cursor to your dinner. Serafina's cuisine draws on rustic traditions of the Italian countryside and is eminently satisfying. Representative dishes include buckwheat pasta, slow-cooked lamb shanks, braised rabbit, homemade veal meatballs, pumpkin-leek ravioli and a ragu of duck, veal and pork. You'll also find steamed mussels, rich sausages and wild-mushroom risotto. Dessert options include a luscious chocolate-hazelnut torte, sweet profiteroles and a homey rhubarb crisp.

Recommended for Italian because: Serafina is a true gem of the Eastlake neighborhood. Come for the charming ambience and delicious dishes.

Corinne's expert tip: Grabbing a happy hour cocktail next door at adjoining Cicchetti Kitchen and Bar is a great way to start off the evening.

Read more about Serafina Osteria & Enoteca →


Agrodolce
Photo courtesy of Frank Huster


In the heart of Fremont, Agrodolce invites guests to "enjoy the bright flavors of Southern Italy prepared by an award-winning chef with a sustainable conscience." Executive Chef Thomas Litrenta applies his own Italian-American culinary heritage alongside the interpretations of James Beard Award-winning chef-owner Maria Hines. The result? Unforgettable dishes that celebrate the best of what Italian flavors have to offer and the freshest of local ingredients the chefs can find. In addition to incredible pasta dishes and sensational mains, diners can savor an unforgettable a la carte brunch each weekend (enjoyed either indoors or at a quaint sidewalk table).

Recommended for Italian because: In the heart of Fremont, Agrodolce celebrates "the bright flavors of Southern Italy prepared by an award-winning chef with a sustainable conscience."

Corinne's expert tip: Make a reservation for weekend brunch via Opentable.com, and dive into delicious dishes ranging from Focaccia French Toast Bites and Fried Chicken with Waffles to breakfast favorites like Skagit River Ranch bacon and marsala gravy, poached eggs and smashed potatoes. (Fresh juices and mimosa carafes about, too!)

Read more about Agrodolce →


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Meet 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...  More About Corinne

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