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Moderately Priced Italian

Yes, Spinasse is wonderful, but what are your favorite neighborhood Italian places that don't break the bank? I'm a native East Coaster spoiled by the excellent American Italian and Regional Italian options I had there. Here I'm a bit more skeptical.

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  1. Don't mean to hijack your thread but Spinasse was a spot which we were thinking of going for our anniversary when we visit Seattle for the first time in May.

    Apart from price which I can get from their menu, any other comments?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Bob Mac

      There are many on this board if you do a search. Do go. Get the tajarin with butter and sage. End of hijack. :)

    2. Hi, CMSeattle:

      In Ballard, I enjoy Pasta Bella. In upper Fremont, I favor Swingside.


      1. You're right to be skeptical. Most of what's cheaper than Spinasse is not great. The two places that I think of as defining "Nabe Italian" here would be Bizzarro (in Wallingford) and Machiavelli (Pike/Pine) both of which I rate "okay but not worth a schlep."

        There are other good Italian options in outlying neighborhoods - La Rustica in West Seattle - but they aren't cheaper than Spinasse (much less Altura)

        I moved here from Brooklyn in 2005. Suffice to say, my own red gravy is much better now than when I left NYC.

        1. How is Branzino, or Ethan Stowell's restaurants? I haven't eaten at any of them, but they look like the first places I'd want to try.



          3 Replies
          1. re: Jay F

            Hi, Jay:

            I had my birthday dinner this year at Branzino, and I liked it a lot. Great food (get the grilled octopus), check. Small, classy joint, check. Great service, check. Worked out really well, and did not feel like it was in a Stalinesque mixed-use highrise.

            To me, pricewise it seemed like it was perched halfway between a neighborhood joint and the high rent district.

            Please Phil, bring back Lofurno's!


            1. re: kaleokahu

              Good to know. I used to live near the Market, and I ate at just about every restaurant in Belltown, but it's all changed so much in 30 years.

              1. re: kaleokahu

                I had totally forgotten about Lofurno's. Thanks for the memory.

            2. About 10 years ago I had a delicious meal at a family owned Italian dive on Lake City Way near 15th (i think), back when I was still a student.

              I went searching on google maps, and I am saddened that it appears they have closed.

              3 Replies
              1. re: alarash

                it was GASPARE'S and was, indeed, wonderful and affordable. after a truck drove into the front door, they moved to phinney ridge but then they sold it, the quality slipped and they have sinced folded.

                i enjoy IL BISTRO in the market but it is at the upper end of "affordable". terrific food and really charming ambiance but mid-range rather than inexpensive.

                1. re: howard 1st

                  I lived in Seattle 30 years ago, and ate at Il Bistro all the time. Loved it. Who imagined it would still be open.

                  1. re: howard 1st

                    Hi howard 1st,


                    It was definitely Gaspare's. I went with 5 other guys, all in our mid 20's. we sat around a large table, the server was the owners daughter. I remember feeling bad for them as the place was empty on that particular weeknight.

                    I wasn't optimistic for the food. Ordered the most expensive thing on the menu ($17), a mixed seafood pasta. It was delicious. I would have considered it a bargain at $25.

                    I ordered a similar dish at every Italian place I've dined at since, and have never been as satisfied.

                    I hope the owners family is doing well, and hope their fortunes have turned for the better. The one night I spent in their company was a memorable one, and I'm grateful to them for it.


                2. Is La Medusa moderately priced? Medusa is one of the best.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: dagrassroots

                    La Medusa looks to be 10%-15% less expensive than Spinasse. For my money, it's consistently the best Italian in town.

                  2. Also Il Corvo for pasta.

                    1. Not my neighboorhood, but if it was I'd be here every week:

                      Ethereal lasagna.

                      1. Also artusi is a little cheaper than spinasse and really good.

                        1. I think La Spiga is fairly priced and very good. Maybe not the "neighborhood" place you wanted but Tavolata at happy hour is a steal. $8 for dinner sized portions of homemade pasta. I second La Medusa and Il Corvo. La Medusa is sthe most "neighborhood-y" of these. It is not strictly Italian--someone in the kitchen is French trained, I'd guess, and they incorporate a lot of local ingredients which might make for a less authentic menu, but those things help make it a great place.

                          1. Salvatore on Roosevelt might be right. Pastas are around $15 and veal at $21. The owner is the chef. Kind of old fashioned and in that location for decades.
                            Bar Del Corso on Beacon Hill is newer with wood fired pizza and small plates including octopus and meat balls for $10 and under as well as a number of vegetables and salads.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: forkit

                              Hi, forkit:

                              Salvatore! I haven't been there in ages. The last time I ate there, there was this long-haired, big-nosed guy eating pasta across from me, and women were staring at him--from inside and OUTSIDE the restaurant. My wife told me later (since she was staring, too) that this was "Fabio", whose visage she then told me is on the cover of about 85% of all pulp romance novels.

                              When was THAT, about 1990?

                              But I should go back...


                              1. re: forkit

                                I think Salvatore's is the best value for Italian in the city. It truly is a neighborhood place - it's in our neighborhood and we go their often enough that they know the food and wine we like. The wait staff hardly ever changes. Order anything off the specials menu. Standout dishes I have had there lately include a pumpkin stew they served in the fall and a veal with gorgonzola sauce a few weeks ago. If you go mid-week, Salvatore himself may be in the kitchen. On the weekends he is usually in the front of the house but he has a good crew in the kitchen and keeps a sharp eye on everything. We took a friend there with us a few weeks ago and he said the dish he had seemed like what Salvatore would make for himself at home. Our friend was also stunned by the quality and value of the bottle of wine Salvatore brought out for us (a Rorero arneis). It is utterly non-precious and great food