After stepping inside Cafe Lago's airy atmosphere—where floor tiles are bicolored and tiny alien spacecraft masquerade as hanging lights—start your feast in proper Italian fashion with a lovelorn aria and an antipasto plate such as the olivata, a black-olive puree/goat cheese combination served on grilled bruschetta ($6.95), or grilled eggplant with a gorgonzola doorstop ($6.95). Risk-takers and physics majors can follow this with a pasta dish such as gnocchi ($19.95)—potato dumplings in a tomato, vodka, and cream sauce—just to see what happens to the space-time continuum when pasta comes in contact with an antipasto. The majority of people, though, will want to try Cafe Lago's celebrated pizzas, all of which are cooked to perfection over burning pieces of apple wood. Meat-eaters might like the romana pizza ($18.95)—which features sausage, smoked mozzarella, and sliced sweet onions—while herbivores and herbivoyeurs can opt for the caprino pizza ($18.50), served with goat cheese, caramelized onions, marinara, garlic, and mozzarella. Wash everything down as easily as a greased rubber duck with a glass of wine from the restaurant's cellar.
There was once a pair of friends who shared the same name. These friends—the Gregs—also shared the belief that even casual food should be fresh. So they put their heads together to found Zaw Artisan Pizza, where seasonal, organic, and locally sourced ingredients top carefully crafted take-and-bake pies. Diners can watch over the counter as pizza artistes decorate white, whole wheat, or gluten-free crusts with toppings such as free-range chicken breast, hearty spinach, and fresh artisan cheeses. Each pie leaves the shop unfrozen—as evidenced by the lack of freezers in all six stores—to be baked to a golden crisp inside the customer's oven or backyard iron forge. To further their commitment to quality, the Gregs strive to source local ingredients from neighborhood farmers' markets whenever possible, and craft each batch of dough with Bob's Red Mill flours.
"I put myself in the loving hands of owner/chef Mike Horri, who invited this stranger into his humble, candlelit abode, took a survey of my likes and dislikes ("I hate beef liver," I admitted), and spent the rest of my stay doing what he does best: surprising his guests," raves a restaurant reviewer from the Seattle Times. Meals at Pasta Freska always come with hearty helpings of surprise, as there is no printed menu and Mike simply serves what he thinks will delight the palates and bellies of his guests, based on their general preferences. Small Italian courses wander through the realms of antipasto, salad, pasta, seafood, and meat, with culinary accommodations made for vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and all-onion diets. More than 100 varieties of wine vie for the opportunity to complement meals.
Housed in a former bakery, this husband-and-wife pizza palace invites diners to kick back while the pies crisp and the staff zigzags around the room like a fleet of choreographed Roombas. Each circle of dough is hand mixed and flattened into a thin, flakey, fitting throne for each fresh topping. Creations are 18 inches in diameter and range from classic to creative like the ham and egg pie with prosciutto, soft yolks, mozzarella, and homemade tomato sauce ($18). The aptly named vegetarian combines sun-dried tomatoes, kalamata olives, and goat cheese ($18) for a meatless masterpiece. The Favorite is rumored to cure cooties with its toothsome Italian sausage, fragrant garlic, and Mama Lil's hot peppers ($18).
Tutta Bella owner Joe Fugere isn’t just a passionate pizza-maker, he’s a certified one. In 2004, Joe travelled to Naples to complete his training as a pizzaiolo under the guidance of the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana or VPN, an association that sets strict standards for the production of true Neapolitan pizza. Joe follows those strict standards to the letter, shaping each batch of dough by hand, sprinkling it with fresh, whole milk mozzarella and San Marzano tomatoes, and cooking it to soft, chewy perfection in a wood-fired oven. The finished pizza emerges hot, gooey, and fragrant, and covered in a range of VPN-approved toppings such as italian sausage and mushrooms or marinated eggplant and goat cheese. And, for a really authentic pizza experience, Tutta Bella recommends eating it "a libretto", or folded in half like a book, and smothered in grana padano cheese, like a really good book.
With a menu full of pizza, pastas, and calzones, Alberona's Pizza & Pasta might pass for a strictly Italian eatery. But upon further inspection, diners can taste the restaurant's delicate balance of classic Italian and Greek flavors. Alberona's dough-spinners sprinkle their 20 specialty pies with everything from alfredo sauce and grilled chicken to feta cheese and gyro meat. Similar fixings fill calzones as well as sandwiches, such as the meatball parmesan sub and veggie gyro. The Italian and Greek split continues in Alberona's pasta selection, including the classic shrimp linguine and Greek-style spaghetti sautéed in brown butter and tossed with mizithra cheese.
For eaters on the go, Alberona's offers pickup and delivery. Alberona's delivers until 2:45 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, just in time for the staff to watch its favorite 3 a.m. infomercial.