Written by on September 15, 2010 in I Eat Seattle, I Eat...Out with 0 Comments

(tulio.com) – Downtown
How I heard of this place: I first heard about Tulio through the dining establishments which offer discounts to 5th Avenue Theater season ticket holders. Upon first try, however, none of our party was impressed. Since then, we have been consistently happy with everything we have had the pleasure of sampling!
Type of cuisine: “Chef Walter Pisano clearly puts his heart into this longstanding favorite, continuing to impress diners and critics alike. His boldly flavored dishes are both simple and sophisticated, combining rustic Italian preparations with fresh Pacific Northwest ingredients.” Elsewhere, the chef’s cuisine is described as”rustic yet refined dishes [which] sing with bold flavors and the unparalleled freshness of seasonal Pacific Northwest ingredients. He presents honest food that is both imaginative and true to his family’s Italian tradition. Regular diners always have new surprises to explore, and still swoon over Pisano’s sweet potato gnocchi antipasti (they won’t let us take it off the menu)”.
Ambiance: The Tulio website describes the place best: “Step through the antique revolving doors of Tulio Ristorante and it’s as if you’ve entered a bustling Italian trattoria in the heart of downtown Seattle…Add to this our great location adjacent to Hotel Vintage Park, our warm, intimate atmosphere and outstanding service and it’s easy to understand why Tulio is widely regarded as one of the city’s best restaurants.” Additionally, “Tulio bustles with convivial grace. Our comfortably elegant dining room, outstanding service and honest, memorable food keep the critics applauding and guests returning again and again. Whether you’re just grabbing a casual bite or celebrating a special occasion, Tulio charms and satisfies. Our central location makes us ideally situated for a power breakfast, business lunch or pre-theater dinner, as well as for private events. But it’s the whole package that makes Tulio a delightful destination for any meal of the day. Step through our antique revolving doors, and you are enveloped in the world of Tulio—mouthwatering aromas, gracious service and a dynamic energy that just makes you feel good to be a part of. The rich wood bar and furnishings gleam in the soft light. White linen tablecloths add to our timeless quality. Old-world sensibilities unite with contemporary style in the room and on the plate…Sink into a leather banquette or grab an elegant chair at a linen-clad table. Hang out at the lively bar and enjoy superb cocktails. On a nice Seattle day, prime sidewalk seating beckons for sun-filled dining.”
What I ordered: On this occasion, I decided to try something new. Rather than stick with the all-time favorite of our theater-going ensemble, I opted for the arugula salad ($9) with crispy prosciutto, hard boiled egg and a light, but flavorful lemon dressing. As far as appetizers go, this was also the choice of the dining companion to my left. Working our way around the table, the next three in our party of six enjoyed the ever-popular sweet potato gnocchi ($9) with sage butter and mascarpone. Our sixth dining companion, and birthday celebrator selected the special appetizer of the day: slices of ripe, juicy peach topped with feta cheese and squash blossoms in a light vinaigrette. For dinner, I went with another new-to-me menu item: the pappardelle ($15) with pancetta, chantrelles and shaved pecorino toscano cheese. To my left, my dining companion ordered a very colorful orecchiette ($16) with spicy Italian sausage and rapini in a light tomato sauce, topped with Reggiano cheese. The next of our six dining companions selected the special: a crispy, browned, pan-seared halibut served over a panzanella salad with a lemon vinaigrette. The next two of our dining companions ordered the ribeye ($32 each), dry aged 28 days and served with porcini salted potatoes and a creamy Gorgonzola Dolci atop. Our birthday girl ordered the grilled wild salmon ($27) with charred escarole, a sweet orange vinaigrette and topped with fresh fig. It was free dessert night at Tulio, so for every two entrees ordered, we were gifted one free dessert. We could not just stop at three…Among the diners, we had two orders of budino di cioccolata (normally $8) – a warm chocolate pudding cake with a dollop of toasted meringue, adorned with a slice of almond brittle and set in the middle of a plate drizzled with a circle of raspberry caramel sauce. We also opted for one order of the cannoli ($9) – blueberry sauce, complete with blueberries topped a chocolate chip ricotta cream cannoli. The fourth and final dessert at our table was a walnut panna cotta ($8), sweetened with Italian honey and decorated with a thin slice of croccante.
What I loved: My favorite on this evening – bypassing the gnocchi, which is always a winner! – was the ribeye with creamy gorgonzola and soft, buttery potatoes. The salmon and the halibut were well prepared, juicy, flaky and tasty. The two pastas at the table were also flavorful, while light and very enjoyable.
Why I loved it: The setting is perfect for an evening out with friends prior to being entertained by a cast of international dancers at the Paramount Theater (“Burn the Floor”). The food is consistently good and the service impeccable. The bread basket never-ending and the food more satisfying than you could hope for.
Cost: Average to high ($15-$36 for dinner entrees)

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