Italian cuisine was born when, after building the city of Rome, Romulus and Remus discovered Greece didn't deliver to their new address. Taste the origins of an empire with today's Groupon: for $20, you get $40 worth of authentic Italian eats and wine during dinner at Adriatic Grill in Tacoma.
Adriatic Grill's chef and owner, Bill Trudnowski, forges pizza and pasta dishes in an 800-degree wood-burning stove and parades a sprawling menu of Italian classics. Begin filling appetite buckets with an order of steamed local clams simmered with sweet-basil pesto and fresh herbs ($12.50). Split an oven-fired five-cheese manicotti ($14), which seals in precious dairy like a farmer's panic room. Diners quell carnivorous cravings by slicing into the sea salt and cracked pepper that cloaks the 20-ounce T-bone Fiorentina ($34) or tucking into the 12-ounce fire-grilled, bone-in pork chop rubbed with rosemary and roasted garlic and served with roasted fingerling potatoes ($19).
The eatery's warm, understated décor and outdoor patio make it an ideal location for lingering over the dessert menu's decadent triple-lemon panna cotta ($7.50) with blueberry-port compote and basil syrup.
Awash in the glow of Adriatic's flickering forno, chef Bill Trudnowski fondly recalls a youth spent watching his father, the son of a butcher, prepare fresh farm-to-table cuisine. After a stint in the army, Trudnowski started a new career as a corporate executive chef, eventually opening Adriatic Grill, his first restaurant. Distinguished by locally sourced seasonal ingredients and careful preparation, dishes range from ocean-fresh shellfish and bone-in chops to eight flavors of thin-crust pizzas crisped inside a custom-built wood-burning oven. Bill, named the Best Chef of 2012 and 2013 by South Sound Magazine, is happy to accommodate special requests, whether they involve removing the gluten, substituting items, or writing his autograph in gravy.