Part of a series of restaurant recommendations offered in The Stranger’s 2017 Guide to Food and Drink (International Edition).
For a bar that knows its way around Italian bitters, you can't do better than Artusi, Spinasse's next-door aperitivo bar that has grown into a separate Capitol Hill destination all its own. Whether you're looking to expand beyond fernet or prefer your amaro in a well-balanced gin or whiskey cocktail, the knowledgeable bartenders here can guide your sword from behind the perch of their massive square-shaped bar table. The small plates win just as many awards as the drinks here, so you might want to order some handmade pasta or salami to go with that Americano. Don't forget about happy hour, when martinis and old-fashioneds are $6 each. CORINA ZAPPIA
This convivial neighborhood pizzeria is perpetually packed with Beacon Hill locals getting their wood-fired pizza fix. (If there's a wait, avail yourself of one of the bar's excellent Negronis.) Those blistering pies are indeed delicious, but the Italian small plates, such as grilled octopus or burrata with rapini, are what gives this place the edge. The specials board is always a knockout: A recent visit yielded a mouthwatering potato pizza topped with a sheaf of prosciutto di Parma, as well as the unbeatable tonno del chianti—pork shoulder braised in olive oil and served on a bed of crunchy radicchio. Earmark one of the light and crumbly polenta cakes before they sell out. JENN CAMPBELL
It's really all about the happy hour at this upscale Denny Triangle Italian restaurant, because it becomes a little too pricey otherwise. During these non-peak hours (3 to 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to midnight Monday to Saturday), you can share select bottles of white, red, or rosé wine for $18 (or pay $4.95 a glass) and get 50 percent off the bar menu. This menu is actually pretty impressive and touches on the plump house-made ravioli, natural shoulder tenderloin steak, local clams in a rich arneis wine broth, and nibbles like the mixed antipasto and the cheese and accompaniments plate. Dessert is worth the splurge—try the warm Panettone bread pudding. LEILANI POLK
I'm incredibly impatient when it comes to waiting in line. The only exceptions to this rule are new Star Wars films and Il Corvo Pasta in Pioneer Square. Dedicated customers will queue up nearly around the block for Mike Easton's and Victoria Diaz Easton's homemade tagliatelle, mafaldine, and spaghetti nero dishes, and warm, fluffy focaccia. For these lunchtime treats, the long line is certainly warranted—I still catch myself dreaming of the Eastons' conchiglie with briny bits of anchovy, lemon zest ribbons, and pickled chilies. The best part: Il Corvo's pasta dishes are less than $10. A note for Seattle introverts: This place is always crowded and tables are typically "social," meaning that total strangers will need to sit together on occasion (gasp!). ANA SOFIA KNAUF
Update Summer 2020: Il Corvo is closed, but Mike Easton's pasta can be found at Il Nido in West Seattle.
Look, this Capitol Hill restaurant is fine. It's fine for Seattle. Italian food in Seattle is just not like Italian food on the East Coast (or Italy, for that matter). It's a non-paisano's take on Italian food, which is to say, Anglo people's take on Italian food. I find many of the sauces in Ethan Stowell's restaurants to be too salty—dude, put the salt shaker down, just back away from it—but his handmade pastas are great. I'm a fan of the tonnarelli cacio e pepe, a simple pasta tossed with toasted peppercorns and pecorino Romano, and the house-made fresh mozzarella served with grilled bread. Simple, perfect, and not too salty. A warning: Afterward, your wallet will be as light as your stomach is full. TRICIA ROMANO
Another Ethan Stowell pasta spot, this Belltown restaurant is in a more accessible, less-precious setting, with many similar dishes as Rione. On my last stop, I had the tonnarelli carbonara, with guanciale and cured egg yolk. The noodles were hollow—each one was like a straw. This was an ingenious idea—it makes more room for the sauce and results in a dish that's not so heavy. The rigatoni is a pretty straightforward red sauce with spicy sausage, and I've enjoyed the gem salad before. Head there early for happy hour, held at a blessedly sane time—from 5 to 7 p.m.—and you can have much of the menu for a pittance (almost half off regular prices in some cases). TRICIA ROMANO