Fancier, higher-concept Italian restaurants come and go in Seattle, amazing or disappointing or whatever; old-school Machiavelli, open since 1988, is a reliable friend. Fun fact: Matt Dillon, whose renowned Sitka & Spruce is right around the corner, loves this place. The lasagna with spinach noodles and chicken livers is the kind of thing you think about suddenly for no apparent reason—then you must have it that night, or the next night, or some night very soon. The tables in the cozy, low-ceilinged dining room don't have red-and-white-checked tablecloths, but they might as well. People bring their parents or their 10 closest friends or someone they really like for a first (or second, or billionth) date. One night a while back, one-half of a couple arose from a table to get down on bended knee, velvety box with ring in hand; the whole room applauded. The tiny bar is especially satisfying in the winter, when passersby look cold and miserable, while inside everyone is insulated with good company, beverages, and anticipation. Machiavelli isn't fancy, it's just always good.
1215 Pine St,
Hours: 5-11 pm, closed Sunday
Bar/Happy Hour, Good for Groups, Romantic