A lion's head stands guard over the brick oven at Pizzeria Guido & Wine Bar, bearing its fearsome jaws at any who would try to pilfer the restaurant's family recipes. Thankfully, the only way most diners attempt to gain insight into the establishment's Tuscan traditions is through the food. Slivers of buffalo mozzarella, basil, and fresh tomatoes accent antipasti plates in the colors of the Italian flag, and the wood-fired oven spills forth the aromas of prosciutto, capers, and fontina cheese topping pizzas and filling calzones. Glasses of Italian wine click together in the halos of steam rising from pastas. Waiters move through the spacious dining room, and their white dress shirts and smart red ties complement the wall's gentle orange and yellow tones, which call to mind the warming glow of a sunset or a haunted ventriloquist dummy finally burning.
The inside of ViaVita Café & Wine Bar traces the timeline of a single day. Floor-to-ceiling windows cast morning light onto a display case of pastries and cheeses—an addendum to the counter that bears morning coffee orders. Nearby, granite-topped tables sit far enough apart to suggest an open, Parisian patio, but close enough together to support a cross-stream of chatter over lunchtime sandwiches. The day ends on the other side of a semicircular wine bar. There, walls wearing distressed paint encapsulate a rustic alcove, where hanging plants and Greco-Roman-style pottery evoke the dining room of a hillside villa.
The decor and seasonal menu at ViaVita Café & Wine Bar champion a European-flavored escape, where diners can stop at any time for a meal, a snack, or a glass of wine. From the crepes and omelets of brunch—served with duck-fat potatoes and chocolate-orange butter—to afternoon paninis and dinners of pan-seared Alaskan salmon, meals realized by imaginative chefs spark and fuel long conversations. Imported and domestic beers, as well as wines from small vineyards on multiple continents, complement the diverse bouquet of flavors and pair especially well with cheese and charcuterie boards. During special events, guitar music acts as a soothing soundtrack for bites, and sommelier seminars instruct patrons on how to age libations without sending them to PG-13 movies alone.
Edmonds handcrafts its wines in small, open-top fermentation tanks before aging them in small oak barrels. Producing only 1,000 cases of wine a year, the winery distributes them to local restaurants and gourmet shops. During your wine tasting, you'll get to try a variety of varietals, such as the sweet and dry 2008 Gewurtztraminer ($15), the intensely fruity 2007 Slide Ridge ($29), or the 2007 Delorious ($23), a wine made of equal parts delicious and glorious. Take note of which wine agrees with your flavor receptors and mind-matter the most, then take home a bottle.
A pair of restaurateurs opened Pair Food & Wine so they could pair local and organic food with local and imported wine. The meat and dairy on the seasonal menu comes from Washington farms, and the produce might even come straight from Pair's back garden, harvested by the tiny farmers who live behind the sidewalk planters. While the wine list is lengthy, the bar-food menu is short, containing just a snack-size handful of dishes. "But each one," wrote the Seattle Times in 2009, "falls in line with Pair's penchant for making simple dishes elegant."
In 1992, restaurant owner Carlos Kainz and chef Julie Guerrero first joined forces to open a tiny West Seattle bakery and café, a spot that quickly gained traction and outgrow its modest trappings. The duo packed up the winning operation and moved on to a larger space and a larger vision, renaming their venture Dulces Bistro & Wine and crafting an ambitious menu focusing entirely on Latin-fusion cuisine for dinner. Although Guerrero traces her family heritage back to Mexico, many of her dishes, including paella valenciana and boeuf bourguignon, show strong European influences. Unadulterated Latin staples pepper the menu, such as the green chicken enchiladas that serve as a staple in Mexico City and at Sam I Am’s Cinco de Mayo parties.
As you and your dining date nestle close in Crêpe Cafe's cozy confines, you'll get to watch the crêpes get spun right in front of you. Though crêpes are traditionally a dessert, it's recommended that you start with the menu of dinner crêpes first. Whet your appetite with a bubbly-cheesed French onion soup before wrapping your reptilian tongue around entrees such as Heaven's Crêpe (Black Forest ham and swiss topped with homemade béchamel sauce and fresh asparagus, $12.95 for a regular) or the Island Girl (shrimp with fresh mango, spinach, roma tomatoes, avocado, and Swiss topped with a Caribbean lime and mushroom sauce, $15.95). Vegetarians won't have to huffily pick things out of their crêpe and then feed them to roaming restaurant dogs if they order the Westchester (avocado, swiss, caramelized onions, roma tomatoes, and spinach with sun-dried tomato coulis, $12.95 for a regular) or the house specialty, Mushroom Medley (assorted mushrooms sautéed in a white wine and garlic cream sauce wrapped in a buckwheat crêpe with gruyere cheese, $12.95).