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Looking for best Italian in Seattle area?

Hi. Taking husband to Seattle for birthday next wednesday and he wants Italian. There are so many and I don't know the town that well. Any ideas?


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  1. La Spiga or Volterra.

    Just had a wonderful braised pork dish at La Spiga this weekend.
    I've only been to Volterra once, but loved everything I had.

    4 Replies
    1. re: GreenYoshi

      Skip La Spiga. Their old spot was amazing, best Italian food I had in Seattle. The new space I have tried three times (thinking I had off nights) and all three times the food just wasn't as good as it had been. The lasagna (used to be what I always ordered) was overcooked and burned, the bolognese was runny and lacked the depth of flavor it used to have, and the proscuitto board appetizer tasted like it had been sitting out sliced for a few days.

      Go to Volterra, it's worth the time to head a bit north of the downtown core. Make reservations if it's a weekend evening if you can.

      1. re: nseattlefoodie

        I'll grant that the pastas aren't as great as they used to be.
        (although the winter squash gnocchi my brother had was great)

        But they still churn out some of the best home-y Italian entrees around.

        1. re: GreenYoshi

          I think Il Terrazzo Carmine, The Pink Door, Volterra and Bizarro all beat the new La Spiga hands down.

          1. re: GreenYoshi

            I'm so sad that La Spiga hasn't gotten it together in the past year, and that they don't seem to care (there's been so much criticism, but I guess why should they, if they are packed all the time?). It was such a gem--real regional Italian, the stuff that is so hard to find almost anywhere in the US.

      2. Il Terrazzo Carmine. The venison ravioli... *drool*

        Excellent sweetbreads, too.

        1 Reply
        1. re: terrier

          Il Terrazo Carmine, hand's down.

        2. I'd skip Volterra. Not good when we went (my wife's prawns were RAW!). I honestly don't k now what the fuss is about. I'd choose l Terrazzo Carmine for something more formal and dressy or The Pink Door for something more casual and fun.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Jeffo405

            Agreed on skipping Volterra, I really like Barolo downtown if you want more of "high-end" Italian.

            1. re: chillum_99

              I would vote for Barolo as well. Their pasta dishes are always excellent. Haven't been impressed with Italian overall in Seattle so far. I've read about an Italian restaurant in Tacoma that is supposed to be very good, anyone know anything about this place?

              1. re: landguy

                if you go to Barolo, try to reserve one of the banquettes by the window (in the dining room, not the bar/lounge), the other dining room tables have hard chairs that are less comfortable imo. Maybe start off with some burrata and carpaccio if they have them, and a glass of Averna or Nonino Amaro (not Nonino grappa), chilled, up.

                1. re: landguy

                  Tacoma Italian restaurant: Europa Bistro located in Tacoma's Proctor District.

            2. I had a great meal at Volterra recently and was impressed by everything we ate.

              1. Has anyone tried Nana Carmellas in Monroe? I am hearing good things about it.

                oh and thanks for the help...

                1 Reply
                1. re: leavenworthgal

                  Nana Carmellas in Monroe is literally the best Italian food I have ever had. Not only is the food good, but the atmosphere is so much fun! Plan on spending the whole evening there as it is an event. Oh and make reservations - it fills up quickly. The portions are huge and the wine is flowing. We have lived in several major cities and this is truly the best!

                2. I was also completely unimpressed with La Spiga.

                  I love Volterra -- the Polenta custard filled with fontina and topped with Wild Mushrooms is insanely good. The paparadelle with wild boar ragu was excellent.

                  Bizarro (in Wallingford) is fun, less fancy and more homestyle. It's also cheaper.

                  1. Cafe Lago in Montlake and Cafe Juanita on the eastside. I'll third skipping La Spiga, great space, sub par food.

                    1. You don't mention price range or whether there is a preference for northern or southern. Cafe Juanita is excellent fine dining but on the pricy side, albeit worth every penny. It's northern Italian with a Pac NW twist. Cafe Lago is also very good but on the pricy side for a casual place and is basically limited to a few pastas, pizza, and antipasti. Tulio's is pretty good but noisy--mostly northern Italian and moderately priced. Haven't been to Il Terrazo in years, but it was very good and very pricy.

                      1 Reply
                      1. Cafe Lago on Montlake. I cannot get enough of their lasagna - light as air noodles layered with a subtle tomato sauce and pillow-soft ricotta. I'm practically drooling as I type. My boyfriend likes their steak dish although it often comes just a wee-bit overdone. I *do* like their pizzas, but everytime I order them I wish I had ordered the lasagna. For desert I recommend their lemon tart. Too good.

                        1. I have to say, I found Lago to be very generic Italian American food, with no creativity in the dishes. It was also expensive, especially for what we got.

                          Another point in favor of Volterra: they use at least some, if not all, grass-fed, organic meats.

                          1. If your husband likes risotto, try the risotto w/ crispy pig ear at Union (really). The pig ear is in shreds like deep fried onion strings and crispy like pork belly or suckling pig. You can get this as a appetizer at the bar then go elsewhere for your main event.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: barleywino

                              i'm usually not particularly crazy about the pastas at Union but had a great sea urchin chitarra there the other night.

                            2. If you want to experience something different, but Italian try Pasta Freska on Lake Union.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: cristinamom

                                Pasta Freska is a great idea. A very informal, nearly wacky, place, with good food and a fun, informal atmosphere.

                              2. I have always liked Assiago's downtown (2000 Fourth Avenue) and their braised lamb shank has been a weakness of mine.

                                1. My two cents is La Rustica. It's amazing! But check first I heard they were remodeling.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: SeattleJim

                                    Oh my gosh...La Rustica. It has been years since I ate there and it was sooooooooo good. I also loved the atmosphere even if it was a little hard to hear because of all the noise bouncing off their walls. If they are remodeling, perhaps that problem will be fixed.

                                  2. If you are willing to go to Tacoma I believe Marzano to be the best italian food I have ever had. The dishes range from simple peasant meals like Gnocchi (Fabulous) to a amazing Gorgonzola rib steak with portobello and grilled veggies or risotto. My personal favorite is the Linguine alle Vongole. Mmmmmm! The salads and starter breads are wonderful as well. Prices range from a modest 10.75 to 25.95 for the fancier fare. Great pizzas and wine selection as well. Friendly. I suggest reservations for nights and weekends.

                                    1. I know your husband's birthday has passed but I still feel obligated to make two recommendations that I have not seen suggested.

                                      1215 Pike St
                                      Hands down the best Italian in Seattle. Independently owned, reasonably priced, stellar service, and top notch food. A nice, warm neighborhood joint with a full bar. Their only downfall is they lack an espresso machine. However, Bauhaus is across the street.

                                      102 Cherry St.
                                      In a basement in Pioneer Square. Funky place. The food is hit or miss, but when the kitchen's on they're on. It's at least checking out for the atmosphere.

                                      La Spiga
                                      Don't bother.

                                      1. Serafina, on Eastlake, is ersatz Italian--don't know if your hubby wants the real deal. The food is very good and I love the restaurant space, very cozy and comfy, is consistently voted one of the most romantic restaurants in Seattle.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: Erika L

                                          what do you think is 'ersatz' about Serafina?

                                          1. re: Erika L

                                            I second Serafina. Consistently delicious and great service. Romantic, yet not a snore... it is lively romantic. Their sage and pumpkin raviolis are wonderful.

                                          2. Here are the three best:

                                            Il Terrazzo Carmine (most elegant)
                                            La Spiga (most "authentic")
                                            Volterra (most romantic)

                                            You can't go wrong at any of these three places, but they're all different. All very good--if not excellent--food. Check them out online, and figure out what kind of dining experience you want.