Owner Mike Salimi mans the counter at Nova Restaurant most days, opening and closing the cash-register drawer and handing over pizzas, homestyle burgers, sandwiches, and seafood to hungry customers. He has finely tuned his pizza recipe throughout the past 20 years, using trial and error to arrive at his current series of steps: hand-making pizza dough, homemade sauce, and toppings that are purchased each day. He also whips together an array of seafood dishes, including oysters, prawns, and Irish-style fish 'n' chips made with halibut or cod and coated in a specialty batter. He hangs colorful abstract paintings on the eatery's yellow walls, which is the closest humankind will ever get to decorating the sun.
Bella Vita offers a menu of authentic Italian entrees, traditional weekend brunch, and an expansive, international wine list set amid an inviting interior spotted with low-hanging lights and sleek marble accents. Once the green-napkin flag has been waved, diners are free to tear around the entree track, crashing into Arista alla Milanese, featuring braised pork shoulder stewed in white wine and sage, topped with a sausage-and-bacon sauce, and served snuggled with potatoes ($18). Smoked stacks of salmon fettuccini alfredo will impress even the most critical mermaid dates ($19), as will antipasti dishes such as the olive-oiled caprese ($10) and the gamberi rossi, featuring sautéed prawns with shallots and fresh tomatoes in a white-wine sauce ($12).
At Lucia, the signature spaghetti comes with white truffle-oil fondue, homemade meatballs, pink sauce—and a minimalist backdrop. The restaurant's split-level dining room is a study in simple black and white, brightened by a smattering of red throw pillows and candles. The space's clean lines shift the focus to the culinary team's upscale versions of Italian classics, which have been featured in The Food magazine. Entrees, for example, range from chicken parmigiana with béchamel sauce to grilled wild salmon in a saffron reduction. Pizzas, meanwhile, come crowned with gourmet toppings such as basil pesto, crimini mushrooms, and prosciutto.
Preservation's plates of Pacific Northwest cuisine change with the season. Start with a plate to share such as buttermilk-tempura-battered calamari ($9), onion gnocchi ($8), or duck leg confit ($12). Main courses from the sample menu include an all-natural roasted pork loin perched atop a ziggurat of risotto made with apples, leeks, and hazelnut ($25), and the ling cod tronchonette: pan-seared Bruce Gore cod with sautéed parsnips and leeks and sourdough crouton in a citrus broth ($21). Preservation's dishes use locally grown, organic produce and sustainably-raised meats and wild fish whenever possible (click here to see a list of its local producers). Pair your meal with Preservation's wines from smaller wineries throughout the Northwest to make a deliciously local dinner. Or stop by for soup ($6 for the soup of the day), salad ($8 for a salad with baby spinach and cranberries), a sandwich ($13 for a smoked duck sandwich), or Benedicted eggs ($10–$12) and gravied buttermilk biscuits ($8–$9) during brunch on the weekends.
Hailing from the Italian island of Sardinia, Fabrizio Loi graduated with honors from Italy's national culinary college. He's put that experience to good use as the owner and head chef at Ristorante Paradiso. There, Fabrizio orchestrates a menu of classic Italian dishes. But instead of strictly adhering to traditional recipes or reading the instructions embedded into every lasagna noodle, Fabrizio puts his own spin on things. Diners reap the benefits of Fabrizio's culinary creativity when they sit down for gourmet pizzas at lunch, or dinner dishes such as cannelloni gratinati—pasta crepes stuffed with ground veal, chicken, and mozzarella and enhanced with a tomato and besciamelle sauce.
The handmade, fresh pizzas and specialty pies at Bella Kitchen are constructed in the classic New York style, which feature foldy-thin crusts, humorously neurotic toppings, and a gruff exterior that hides the heart of a lonely romantic. Signature dough disc selections such as the chicken garlic (with green pepper, tomato, green olive and onion, $9.95—$19.95) or the herbivore-happifying roasted veggie pie (with artichoke, sun-dried tomatoes, red peppers, and eggplant, $9.95–$19.95) are sure to please pizza-craving poets. The indecisive, meanwhile, can get pretty much everything atop a super special ($10.95–$19.95). To keep a hand open for impromptu swashbuckling, opt for portable pocket pizza with the spinach and feta calzone ($8.95). Bella Kitchen also sells pastas, subs, and salads.