Grazie Ristorante: A satisfying taste of Italy in Bothell

After a day of chores, my husband and I decided pasta would hit the spot so we made our way to Grazie Ristorante.

As you enter, you can see into the kitchen and watch some of the cooking action. We did not get much of a chance, however, as we were seated quickly. Had we been able to, we might have gotten a glimpse of the guest chef visiting from Italy through Dec. 1.

The interior is warm with soft light from the imported Italian light fixtures and the red, brown and gold hues. The ceiling is richly detailed and looks like pressed tin, but is actually decorative inserts in acoustic tiles.

The bar — which features live jazz on Fridays and Saturdays — has real copper ceiling tiles, which shine overhead. The colors and copper shine are mimicked in the attractive tabletops.

Our server was attentive and friendly, providing good service during the mid-week dinner hour.

Our appetizer arrived surprisingly fast. The antipasti misti ($14) was a beautiful plate of Italian selections, thinly sliced Italian meats, two mild goat-cheese-filled fritters served with fig jam, stuffed dates, olives and roasted red peppers over arugula. It was salty, sweet, crunchy and smooth.

Several other piatti piccolo (small plates) are available including calamari fritti ($13), roasted prosciutto ($11) and coconut prawns ($15).

Bread with an herby dipping oil is served to each table. The salad choices range from mixed greens, spinach, chicken, caprese, gorgonzola and fried portabella mushrooms over balsamic vinegar wild greens.

The menu has nine choices of wood-fired pizza ($13 to $16), calzone and two breads with toppings, bruscetta arezzo (toasted bread with three spreads) and pane toscano (sourdough garlic bread with basil, mozzarella and parmesan).

They serve traditional pasta dishes and many specialties of the house. These include spaghettini salsica (meaty sauce with spicy sausage $16), linguini, fettuccini and tortellini gorgonzola ($15).

My entree was a seasonal offering, pumpkin ravioli, which was amazingly flavorful, with its sweet, spiced pumpkin filling and a nutmeg cream sauce with caramelized onions topped with bits of gorgonzola and chopped hazelnuts.

The tart gorgonzola balanced the sweetness of the filling and onion but it was a rich dish, substantial enough to take some home for another meal. I had mine with a traditional Caesar salad ($6, added anchovies, $1).

My traditionalist husband scanned the menu and almost ordered his usual, seafood bisque, but jumped out of his comfort zone and chose a cup of creamy garlic soup ($4). It was delicious, unusual, not garlicky at all and made him glad he ventured out.

Sliding back into his comfort zone, Tom ordered spaghetti pomodoro ($12) with veal meatballs ($4.95). Three large and tender meatballs were covered with an authentic Italian chunky tomato sauce and fresh basil.

We could not resist looking at the dessert tray, just to look. It had several choices including the obligatory “death by chocolate,” turtle cheesecake, flan, berry tart and tiramisu. Our server told us that everything except the berry tart is made in-house. We were very full, but took a serving of tiramisu ($6) to enjoy later.

And later, it was the most delicious tiramisu I’ve ever had. The creamy mascarpone cheese and the coffee flavor infused the cake or lady fingers; the light touch of sugar and the sprinkling of coffee powder combined to make a not overly sweet treat.

I am glad I waited until later and split it with my husband.

We will go again to Grazie, maybe next time on a Friday or Saturday night to listen to the music.

Grazie Ristorante

23207 Bothell-Everett Highway, Bothell; 4425-402-9600; www.grazierestaurant.com

Specialty: Italian.

Hours: Lunch, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday; dinner, 4 p.m. to 10 or 11 p.m. daily,.

Vegetarian options: Yes.

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