Written by on May 28, 2010 in I Eat Seattle, I Eat...Out with 0 Comments

(tulio.com) – Downtown
How I heard of this place: Through the 5th Avenue Theater subscriber dining guide and vouchers.
Type of cuisine: A fancy and bustling Italian trattoria Boldly flavored dishes are both simple and sophisticated, combining rustic Italian preparations with fresh Pacific Northwest ingredients.
Ambiance: Warm and intimate, dim lighting, many chairs and tables squeezed into the space to give a full and “bustling” feeling.
What I ordered: Four of us dined at the establishment before heading to the Paramount Theater for “Fiddler on the Roof” with Harvey Fierstein as Tevya. In addition to the salty-rosemary focaccia with extra virgin olive oil, we were greeted with our dining voucher amuse bouche: a warm dried apricot topped with mascarpone and placed between two thin slices of salami, decorated with one leaf of peppery arugula. It’s hard to turn down the melt-in-your-mouth deep fried sweet potato gnocchi ($9) in sage butter with mascarpone and fried chiffonade sage. Three of us couldn’t resist. The fourth was in the mood for greens and ordered the very ample sized (possibly meant to be shared family style) arugula salad ($9) with crispy prosciutto, diced remnant of a hard boiled egg and a drizzling of lemon dressing. For our entrees, two of us ordered the ravioli ($18) with smoked salmon, topped with crispy, blanched asparagus spears cut on the diagonal and served in lemon cream. Another ordered the roasted chicken with caramelized garlic, sage, and served atop a generous helping of lemon risotto. The fourth, to accompany her arugula salad, ordered the duck breast ($25) and crispy confit served over farro beans in duck jus with a rhubarb compote. For dessert, I was unable to pass on the mandarin chocolate chip gelato served in a nut brittle bowl artfully presented on a squiggle of chocolate sauce and topped with a bright, succulent, sweet strawberry. My dining companion who ordered the same first two courses as myself enjoyed a homemade blueberry sorbet served in a martini glass. My companion who ordered the chicken shared the pear crostada served warm with a lemon contreau chili gelato with my companion who ordered the duck.
What I loved: I have to admit that the most beautiful thing I sampled on this eve at Tulio was the orange-chocolate gelato. The perfect pairing of hints of mandarin with the crunchy dark chocolate pieces went down smoothly, even after having consumed so much. The sweet potato gnocchi was a very close second, and if I had been in the mood for a more savory rather than sweet dish, could have stolen the show. I am confident that the rest of the table, by far, agreed that the sweet potato gnocchi is the entire reason to frequent Tulio on theater night.
Why I loved it: The food is delicious! The service impeccable. The presentation exemplary. The proximity to the 5th Avenue Theater unbeatable (though we were enjoying a musical at the Paramount). I have to admit that the last (and first) time I was at Tulio was several years back and having ordered the chicken, served on the bone, was greatly disappointed. This trip allowed Tulio to redeem itself, making me a believer in the reasons behind their being voted one of the best Italian restaurants in the city.
Cost: Average for dinner at a hotel restaurant ($14-$36 depending on the dish ordered, from pasta to veal)

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