Where to Sit: In addition to the dining room, there are two outdoor seating areas. If you're a people watcher, ask if there's a table available on the front sidewalk. If you're looking for more privacy (and shade), request to sit in the courtyard under the tree.
About Chef Celinda Norton
Affogato: a sweet drink made by topping gelato or ice cream with a shot of hot espresso. The Italian name translates to “drowned,” referring to the slowly melting ice cream.
Gnocchi: Italian dumplings made of potato, flour, or semolina. They’re often accompanied by sauce, meat, and/or vegetables.
Who's in Charge: the Varchetta family: brothers Leo, Salvio, and Roberto, plus their parents, Melina and Pasquale. They set the vibe, adhering to an "Our house is your house" mantra.
Who's in the Kitchen executive chef Maurizio Milazzo, whose classic Italian training began—where else—in Italy. Chef Milazzo moved to Seattle in 2006 after cooking for several years on luxurious crew ships.
Escargot: cooked land snail; a traditional appetizer in France.
Grappa: a grape-based brandy that originated in Italy and is made from the fermented remains of the winemaking process.
If You Can’t Make It, Try This: The Varchetta family owns and operates several other Italian restaurants around the city, including University District's Mamma Melina.
Where to Sit Grab a spot beneath the sunny skylight, or pull up a chair near the glass front. Either way, you’ll be eating at a glossy green table in a dining room that’s reminiscent of a Sicilian kitchen.
When to Go: farmers-market dinners on Wednesdays, when chefs come up with unique dishes using fresh, right-off-the-stem produce from Columbia City market
While You’re Waiting
While You’re in the Neighborhood
Before: Expand your horizons by exploring the diverse media at Columbia City Gallery (4864 Rainier Ave S).
After: Catch a concert at Columbia City Theater (4916 Rainier Ave S), the oldest vaudeville theater in the state.
Housemade Pastas: Tavolàta’s cooks make all of their pastas in house. For more complex pasta shapes, they use an extruder located in the basement.
Monthly Communal Dinners: Once a month on a Sunday, the restaurant hosts a four-course prix fixe meal at a communal table. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, though—the restaurant’s name means “to gather around a table.”
If You Can’t Make It, Try This: Celebrated local chef Ethan Stowell owns an entire fleet of eateries, including small-plate Italian spot How to Cook a Wolf (2208 Queen Anne Avenue N) and salumeria Bar Cotto (1546 15th Avenue).
Italian-born Mauro Golmarvi is a self-taught cook. According to Assaggio Ristorante’s website, when guests ask Mauro how he learned the craft, he'll answer: “My stove and my oven are my masters: they teach me everything; they are like my gods … They allow me to express the passion of cooking.”
At Assaggio, Mauro shares that passion with guests, placing an emphasis on simplicity and cooking with the freshest ingredients possible. He stuffs ground chicken and pork inside fried green olives; saturates ricotta gnocchi with brown butter and sage; and whips up a marsala cream sauce to pour over pork chops. The food is served in a resplendent atmosphere, bolstered by elaborate chandeliers and an arched window that offers diners a glimpse of Mauro cooking in the kitchen. The entire dining experience has earned the restaurant a slew of awards, including Wine Spectator's Award of Excellence.
Perché No Pasta and Vino is set inside of a Tuscan villa inspired, melon-hued building. Perché No means “Why not?” in Italian and the cultural pairing of Italian and occasional Southeast Asian dishes are a testament to the family-owned restaurant’s ties and culinary interests. Chef/owner David Kong mans the open kitchen, and his wife, Lily Kong, oversees the front of the house. Patrons can find a table on the main floor, or head upstairs to an intimate dining room overlooking the kitchen. Italian classics makeup most of the menu, and range from house-made pastas and risottos to house-cured meats, pizzas and lasagnas. There’s also an extensive wine list, and Happy Hour Tuesday through Friday and again on Saturday and Sunday. On most nights, live piano music enhances the atmosphere. Gluten-free diners will appreciate a plethora of choices, and a special kids’ menu means small people are always welcome.