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semi-swanky Italian Saturday lunch in Seattle

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Like everyone else here, it's all about the food. However, I need this meal to interview someone for a long term job two Saturdays from now. So in addition to great cooking, I need a quiet table with unobtrusive service in an elegant spot where one can linger without pressure. To complicate matters, I feel like Italian (at the moment!), the lunch is on a Saturday and the hotels are near Pioneer Square. Any suggestions? Some friends have suggested Il Fornaio and Roy's. Never been to either of these.

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  1. Unfortunately, Pioneer Square's good Italian restaurants (Il Terrazzo Carmine & Al Boccalino) are dinner only on Saturdays. If you don't mind a walk up to 5th Avenue, I would suggest Tulio in the Vintage Park Hotel. 5th & Spring.

    1 Reply
    1. re: lara

      if you get a booth at Tulio you should be fine as far as privacy goes. IL Fornaio and 94 Stewart are more casual imo. You might also check with Barolo whether they do lunch on Saturdays (I know they do lunch weekdays), they are probably more elegant than any of the others.

    2. Tulio has excellent food but the tables can be a little crowded and close to each other for quiet, focused conversation. With your criteria of food, service and privacy, I suggest 94 Stewart Street. It's not Italian, but offers a Pacific Northwest/European dining experience where you can linger as well.

      1. il campagne is by far the nicest option right outside pike street market. tres cher, but good for wowing the right candidate.

        1. Il Fornaio is a chain in a mall-on Saturday afternoon it will be packed with suburban families who are shopping downtown. That doesn't sound like the atmosphere you're looking for.

          1. There's something about tres cher that always catches my attention. Tres cher and expense accounts go together like... pizza and wine. So I checked out Il Campagne. Unfortunately, it's not open for lunch, and Cafe Campagne, its companion eatery looks like it might be croweded and noisy. So far, I've made reservations at 94 Stewart pending further opinions.

            1. Ajsm, You'll love 94 Stewart. Be sure and order their avacado and crab appetizer. (The avacado is coated with panko, deep fried and served warm with the crab on top. It's terrific.) They have an excellent, affordable wine list too.

              1. Some follow-up. Interviewed the candidate at Tulio, which on a Saturday is practically empty, so very quiet. I could see where it would be noisy on a weekday. The food was so-so - perhaps it was the lunch menu, but it was pretty standard fare - not the regional Italian I was expecting. Had dinner at 94 Stewart with my wife. Wow - great wine list, and as someone said, reasonably priced. Tried a couple of inexpensive bottles - Townshend 2003 Syrah, and Kestrel 2004 Viognier. The latter was dry and lovely, not the usual cloying viognier. The former was a bargain at $38 a bottle and had big flavour (imo all the 2003 Washington/BC wines have that same flavour from the particularly hot summer). And lastly, thanks Walters... the avocado was really great. Plenty of fresh dungeness, big sticks of fried, soft, rich avocado and a slightly spicy corn relish. Basically a heaping deconstructed california roll.Very nice.

                1. ajsm, Thank you for letting us know how your Seattle experience went. I'm glad you enjoyed 94 Stewart. I've really grown to like the place more and more. So the big question is: "Did you hire the candidate?"

                  1. Leper, he was offered the position. Waiting to hear back. Of possible interest, he hardly ate anything - a fruit salad which he barely touched, and a capuccino. Excellent self- control... me, I managed not to order any wine.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: ajsm

                      ajsm, In the Robert Altman film "The Player" Tim Robbins' character always orders a different, more obscure mineral water in each lunch/dinner meeting scene along with a salad. If you watch carefully, he never drinks any of the waters or eats any of the salad. Great movie if you haven't seen it.

                      1. re: ajsm

                        I gotta say I'd probably be too wound up to eat my lunch while interviewing at the same time. Take him out to lunch if he accepts the job and see if there's a difference!

                      2. Campagne is a French restaurant and Roy's is a Hawaiian-Asian fusion restaurant. How about Serafina for Italian overlooking Lake Union.