Home to the tastiest handmade pasta and salumi this side of the Atlantic, Seattle's Italian scene is a delicious blend of tradtional technique, seasonal bounty, and the welcoming warmth of la dolce vita. The Italians have a mantra, "a tavola non si invecchia" (translation: one never grows old at the table). Here's where to stay young and savor Italian fare about town:
Behind glowing, lace-curtained windows, Seattle’s best Italian ristorante beckons. Chef Jason Stratton’s rustic, Capitol Hill Piedmontese has secured his spot atop “Best Of” lists thanks to his authentic, exquisite fare. Tuck into homemade pastas, like the butter and sage, skinny-noodle Tajarin, roast rabbit, and seasonal produce. The candlelit room oozes romance, especially with a bottle from the well-curated Italian wine list. Grab a bar seat to peek into one of the prettiest kitchens in town. Plan for an apertivo or digestivo at Stratton’s adjacent bar, Artusi; waiting for a table has never tasted so good. Open nightly.
Roast chicken at Spinasse (credit: Spinasse)
It’s a family affair at Armandino Batali’s (yep, that’s Mario’s dad) Pioneer Square salumeria. Armandino makes sublime salumi; don’t miss the fennel-spiked finnochiona and spicy mole salumi. His wife, Marilyn, makes gnocchi on Tuesdays. Devoted fans line up for phenomenal sandwiches including chin-dripping porchetta, classic meatball subs, and fresh mozzarella and salami. Seats are limited at this itty-bitty shop, so plan for a picnic if need be. Only open 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Or, chef’s choice private lunches for 8-10 people are available on Wednesday through Thursday at $45 plus tax, tip, and vino.
3. Il Corvo
A meal at this tiny Pioneer Square lunch-only spot is a lesson in pasta vocabulary. The likes of torchietti, casarecce, percatelli, and a bodacious, 17-layer lasagna are made by hand each day by pasta maestro Mike Easton. To see what’s on the menu, check out their website for Mike’s irresistible pasta prose and photos. Just $9 at this cash-only joint takes you to pasta nirvana. Closed weekends.
Pasta from Il Corvo (credit: Il Corvo)
Just off Fremont’s main drag, this airy trattoria serves up the sun-drenched cuisine of Sicily and Southern Italy. Chef Maria Hines sticks to her tasty trifecta of organic, local, and seasonal: Taylor Shellfish clams with fregola and grilled asparagus, burrata and anchovies. Gluten-free pasta and vegan dishes will please all palates. The small bar is one of Seattle’s best kept secrets, with hand-crafted cocktails featuring Italian spirits like Campari, limoncello, and Cocchi Americano. Open for lunch, dinner, brunch, and a great happy hour of Italian snacks ($2 arancini!).
The OG of Ethan Stowell’s empire, Tavolàta is where his mastery of Italian cucina began. Inside this convivial, wooden-walled eatery, pasta reigns supreme: pillowy gnocchi, hand-extruded rigatoni and delicate agnolotti. Don’t miss the monthly 4-course Sunday feast (last month’s featured suckling pig) and the happy hour deals, with giant bowls of $8 pasta.
6. Café Lago
For a quarter of a century, this Montlake gem has been the go-to spot for pizza and pasta lovers. A neighborhood classic, the menu is as constant as the restaurant’s checkerboard floor. Regulars return for their famous meatballs, lasagna, and wood-fired pizzas, each cooked Italian style, withquality ingredients and unfussy preparations. Open for dinner nightly.
7. La Medusa
This Columbia City mainstay serves up Sicilian soul food. The chalkboard menu spotights seasonal goods, like a local halibut-based zuppa di pesce and roast asparagus with Samish Bay Ladysmith cheese. Now that farmers market season is in full swing, try the weekly three-course dinner made with hand-picked produce from the nearby market. Dinner Tuesday through Saturday.
The Godfather of Seattle, chef-owner Salvatore Anania has run this Roosevelt stalwart for over 25 years. Whether he is working the room or cooking in the kitchen, Salvatore makes each diner feel al home; “you’re here, you’re family” is his mantra. In a room painted like an Italian piazza, guests savor classics like linguine alla vongole and veal saltimbocca. Closed Monday.
For Neopolitain pizza, head to this Beacon Hill spot. Each wonderfully, blistered, thin crust pie is made from an authentic, tiled oven shipped from across the Atlantic. More than pizza, sample savory, small plates: grilled octopus, roast pork shoulder, and a bevy of seasonal produce. Bookend your meal with homemade bread and dessert; the hand-crafted cocktails (including barrel-aged Negronis) are a plus. Dinner Tuesday through Saturday.
Pizza from Bar del Corso (credit: Facebook/Bar del Corso)
Run by an Italian padre y figlio (dad, Enzo, is a rare, University Certified Gelato Master) D'Ambrosio Gelato brings old world traditions to the Emerald City. Each flavor is made with local, organic milk, high-quality ingredients, and a whole lotta amore. Fan favorites include Nutella, Fragola (strawberry), and Pistachio, made with nuts, aka "green gold", imported from Sicily. Craving a late-night snack? The Ballard and Capitol Hill locations stay open till midnight on the weekends.