Monday, May 26, 2008

My parking lot prejudice did me wrong

a few nights ago, one of my best friends, who was visiting for her sister's graduation, invited to me to enjoy italian food with her lovely family. for several reasons, i had never dined at grazie in all my years living in the area. first, this place is located in a lonely corner of the giant factoria mall parking lot; i never heard anything, good or bad, about this place; and it was in general, just off my radar. little did i know that it was my bff's little sister's favorite restaurant! what a treat!

as we were parking, S noticed that there was smoke billowing out the top of the small building....apparently they roast their own coffee there; no cause for alarm. the restaurant was filled with that rich, intoxicating coffee aroma. our party of 5 was seated in a mafioso-style corner booth; complete with quilted leather cushions.

the requisite bread and oil appeared on the table soon after, and it was very pleasant. the bread was pretty standard, nothing special, but the red pepper flakes and fresh garlic in the olive oil were a nice touch. one thing i did notice about the table was that our server cleared the salt and pepper shakers off the table after she brought the antipasti plate, never to return. very interesting.

E ordered the antipasti plate for the table, which is a chef's choice sort of deal. that day we had a variety of cheeses, including an emmental of some sort, a smoked provolone, and asiago; a couple different kinds of salame; a caprese salad; a skewer of grilled chicken seasoned with pepper and oregano; and some spreads, including a salmon mousse, olive tapenade, and a chopped roasted peppers. the plate was pretty impressive and tasty. i don't think we even finished it all before our entrees arrived.

S ordered the pesce special, which was a medium-grilled salmon dish served with a white wine sauce and grazie's signature risotto. S said it was delicious. i had a bit of the salmon and it was perfectly grilled; soft, moist, and flavorful. mmm.

since M was the grad girl, she ordered her absolute favorite dish ever: filetto gorgonzola, which is a seared, balsamic-marinated tenderloin topped with a gorgonzola pan sauce and a nest of fried onions. this dish is usually served with rosemary patate al forno, but M requested the risotto, which is also her favorite. there were no words when it came to this plate; it disappeared entirely, and that was testament enough.

E and i ordered the halibut genovese, which is a grilled fillet topped with basil pesto over tomato fonduta (like a par-cooked salsa). the halibut also came with the parmesan risotto. the halibut was nice. it needed a little bit of salt, but the lemon wedge helped with the overall zestiness of the dish. i'm a little finicky with white fish; it was a little underdone for me in the thickest part, but it would be suitable for most diners. the only thing that i thought could use reworking was the risotto. it was fundamentally well-cooked, in terms of texture and doneness, but it needed major salt and flavor!! i mixed up the tomato fonduta with the risotto, and that was much more enjoyable.


DESSERTS!

below S ordered the pannacotta; her favorite. we were all pretty full from our main courses, but it was a special occasion so we just went for it. the pannacotta was deliciously cool and smooth; the perfect contrast to the fresh berries served with it.

i love sweets, but i'm in general not much of a dessert orderer at restaurants. this place was so old school. everyone else knew what they wanted since they had been to grazie several times before, but i made the mistake of asking what they have. our server was very friendly, so it wasn't her fault, but what ensued was something i had never experienced before. she went over to the front of the house and grabbed the dessert display tray, then went on to explain in great detail all of the different (approx 8) desserts that were available and was able to show me what each one looks like in the process. :) i don't know why this was so hilarious to me at the time, but i could not stop smiling as she directed all her efforts toward me since everyone else was familiar with grazie's offerings.

i went with the torta di frutti, which she explained was imported from italy, oh my!! :) it was quite tasty; a basic pastry shell with a thin layer of creme anglaise overflowing with various frutti di bosco (raspberries, blueberries, marion berries, and blackberries) and then served on top of a generous helping of their house special, marsala cream sauce. mmm. that actually sounds pretty good right about now.


M again went with her favorite; the pistacchio canolo. the waffle tube was filled with tasty, sweetened ricotta, pistacchios, and chocolate. what a great finale to a great evening with friends and family. grazie, i apologize for letting my parking lot prejudice stand in the way of a beautiful friendship.



NB: there are three different grazie locations in the greater seattle area: factoria, southcenter, and canyon park.

Grazie Ristorante on Urbanspoon

7 comments:

Suge White said...

I told you it was good but youre snobbery blinded you to solid advice.

l nopen said...

Damn...I forgot about this place. We used to hit the one in South Center when we lived in "No Class Kent" and were never disappointed.
Great post!

White Pepper said...

looks pretty good! another reason to go to factoria...besides target and nordstrom rack.

i heart antipasti plates

nis said...

this is my friend's fav italian spot. i loooove the oil dip in the beginning, so much better than butter!i wish more places did that.that dessert tray is pretty much impossible to deny

Anonymous said...

I worked for Kevin at Grazie for about ten years. It was my first job and just to stay in touch I occassionally pick up a shift. The authenticity is unrivaled by any company, especially those tied into a corporate mindset. Who else takes their employees to Italy to learn the true meaning of Italian? Sadly the Factoria spot shut down so the new mall could be built but oddly enough I've made reservations for tomorrow at Canyon Park. Excellent post, I'm glad to hear your experience was ideal.

Anonymous said...

I worked for Kevin at Grazie for about ten years. It was my first job and just to stay in touch I occassionally pick up a shift. The authenticity is unrivaled by any company, especially those tied into a corporate mindset. Who else takes their employees to Italy to learn the true meaning of Italian? Sadly the Factoria spot shut down so the new mall could be built but oddly enough I've made reservations for tomorrow at Canyon Park. Excellent post, I'm glad to hear your experience was ideal.

Anonymous said...

I was just in Seattle for work and lucked upon the South Center location...I would totally agree. I used to own a restaurant, and I would put Grazie at the top of the list of Italian restaurants I have eaten at in the US. The strip-mall look was the only questionable point about the whole experience. I would also recommend their tiramisu. The other desserts looked great, but after I had my first one I couldn't even think of anything else. Cudos to the staff and ownership that still take pride in serving a great meal!