Repeatable: Yes. Visits: 2
If you are yearning to escape the world, but only have an afternoon to spare, then take yourself to Tulio, settle into a banquette, and eat. As you ease into the charm of this most authentic Old World setting, with its dark wood furniture, leaded glass doors, and mahogany bar, you’ll find yourself amazed to be still in Seattle.
Long a fixture in the city’s fine dining scene, Tulio is easy to overlook. But don’t make the mistake of underestimating this classy standard: Nowhere in town will you find gnocchi as brilliant as Tulio’s, made with sweet potato, flash-fried to a golden sweetness, and finished with a savory touch of sage. It’s also one of the best appetizer bargains in town at $9. The salmon ravioli ($17) also deserves its iconic status: whole bits of salmon are carefully enrobed in pasta and finished with a rich, lemony Hollandaise. Perfection.
As superb as the gnocchi and ravioli are, my vote belongs to the baccala appetizer ($9) as the one dish that must never, ever leave the menu. This creamy paste of cod is served with whisper-thin crackles of crostini. Rich and soul-satsifying, and one of the most authentically Old World treatments of this versatile dried fish in town–I enthusiastically recommend it. The orecchiette ($15) is a wonderful presentation of tiny ear-shaped pasta, made savory with sausage, rapini, and a light splash of tomato sauce. The roast chicken $19) here easily equals Le Pichet’s as some of the most hauntingly savory and tender in town; this version comes with a touch of caramelized garlic and a side of creamy risotto. Can’t decide on the many tempting options? Most of the pastas come in half-size portions–just ask your server.
Lunch is perhaps the most crowded time to sample the pleasures of Tulio, as the downtown power suits dine here en masse. But arrive at 1pm, and you’ll get a seat with no problem, and maybe even a glimpse of the chef, Walter Pisano, who named this lovely restaurant after his father. Breakfast is also another tempting option to consider. The rustic grilled bread ($13.95) with poached egg, mushroom tomato ragu, and basil Hollandaise is quite simply one of the most delicious spins on eggs Benedict you’ll find–and a rare vegetarian version.
Tulio is located on the ground floor of the Hotel Vintage Park, which is why it serves three meals a day. Take advantage of these generous hours to while away a full day here. The prices are quite low for food of this caliber, and you might even feel like you’re on vacation far, far away–if only for a few precious hours.