Wednesday, May 21, 2008

La Rustica

When it comes to Seattle, finding almost any type of food, restaurant or market is easy. But when it comes to finding an authentic, Italian restaurant it can be a bit more of a challenge. Having been to Italy many times visiting family , friends and on our own; we know Italian food and eateries and look for similar styles of food and ambience when seeking out places here in the States.
So, if you live in Seattle and have been searching for a quaint Italian restaurant that brings back the memories of your trip to Italy - where you found that little side street gem void of tourists and over flowing with the locals - than La Rustica is a must for your restaurant list.
Tucked away in the maze of waterfront condos on Beach Drive just off Alki Point is where you’ll find this hidden treasure. We’d driven past the restaurant many times, and after hearing wonderful things about the menu decided we needed to try it out. So on a chilly spring night - one that reminded us of our own spring wedding dinner in the hills of Tuscany - we headed to La Rustica. The ambience we found to be relaxed, cheerful and intimate.
The tables are close together and the host’s table is right beside the front door. We didn’t have reservations, but the owner greeted us like long time friends. He was extremely accommodating and recommended we head to the parlor to enjoy a glass of wine before dinner. To our surprise, the host escorted us back outside. We were quickly relived that we weren’t being politely turned away as the host showed us that parlor entrance is located outside, just a few steps away from the front door. Both the parlor entrance and the dining room entrance share the outdoor patio.
A few moments later after finishing our wine and thumbing through the Italian picture books, we were taken to our table – heading back outside, then inside once again. The menu overflowed with both familiar favorites and more traditional Italian home style options. The decision was difficult, but given the chill in the air, we narrowed it down to two hearty dishes; the pesto and prawn risotto and veal marsala. Both were incredibly decadent and generous in their portion size, as was the desert which followed. We ordered Tiramisu, and though it was a bit too sweet for our taste (we prefer more espresso in the flavor than sweet cream) it was still enjoyed with a bold cup of coffee. If you plan on heading to La Rustica keep in mind that finding parking can be a bit difficult. Plan on arriving at least 30 minutes prior to your reservation time. And if you don’t have a reservation, enjoy looking through the Murano glass and Italian picture books in parlor with a nice bottle of Italian wine.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Ama Ama

No matter what your mood, West Seattle has a number of yummy spots to satisfy your craving for both food and atmosphere. Of course it's when the food and ambience come together in a harmonious balance, make for the perfect experience. And of course, this doesn't always work out perfectly.
There has been a place in our neck of the woods that has been catching my eye for quite some time, both in reviews and "curb appeal." Ama Ama Oyster Bar & Grille. Being a HUGE fan of raw oysters on the half shell, Ama Ama was a must. Pour me a Bombay Blue Saffire Martini and I'm there. Only this particulat night I opted for Bombay Blue Gin & Tonic, but I'm getting off subject a bit....
So, after doing a bit of Internet research and finding nothing but positive reviews on the food, we decided to try it out. According to the Ama Ama Web site, the word ama literally means “sea women” in Japanese. Ama were free divers that for over two thousand years provided their families and villages with fresh seafood. Wearing only a loincloth and mask, the ama braved the cold waters of the Pacific Rim to collect shellfish, octopus, sea urchin, and other delicacies from the depths. Apparently, even today, the few surviving ama dive without scuba gear or air tanks. Upon entering this very '60's vibe restaurant, and seeing James Bond "To Russian with Love" playing in the artwork installation behind the bar, did it all seem very a prospro. We were sat quickly, ordered our drinks and of course the oysters. The oysters were fantastic! A sampling of various types of raw oysters, they were placed on the traditional silver tray resting in a bed of crushed ice and served with cocktail sauce, lemon and horseradish. All were incredibly fresh and delicious, another round was a must. Everyone in our party wished that the menu offered a bit more from the raw bar, but what they did have on the menu was quite good. We stuck with oysters, Ahi Tuna, sliders and the Penn Cove Mussels and Frites. All of which were tasty. The oysters were definitely the star of the table. The only two elements lacking: the drinks and the service. Yummy beverages that they were, they were not generous. Go to Ama Ama for the food and a festive fun atmosphere, but don't set your expectations on being taken care of or getting drinks of the same caliber as the oysters.