1215 Pine St
Seattle, WA 98101
Mon-Sat 5-11 pm. Closed Sun
How does one review an institution? Ristorante Machiavelli has been in the Pike/Pine area of Seattle for sixteen years. At this point, it’s no longer trying to impress the restaurant going public, as they have their regular clientele. And from the several visits I have made, they have a LOT of regular clientele.
Let me put this simply. Machiavelli reminds me of the hole in the wall Italian joints on the east coast. The sparseness of decorations on the wall and throughout the restaurant serve to remind everyone that it’s the food that is important.
There are many items on the menu which will please. But there are some misses here as well. That’s where my confusion about this place comes into play.
First, the good. My favorite things at Machiavelli are the Carbonara, the Carbonara, and,oh yeah, the Carbobara. It’s a simple recipe, and minimal in it’s presentation. Eggs, bacon, and parmigiana are combined to create a meal that’s equivalent to an old comfy blanket.
The appetizers are not to be missed either, whether a ceasar salad (get it with the fresh anchovies…yum!!), or the antipasto with it’s collection of meats and pickled veggies. If you’re really looking for something great, the Tuna Carpaccio combines sashimi grade fresh tuna with capers and parmigiani melt in your mouth in a way that Sushi chefs could never dream.
For dessert, get the Diplomatico. It’s a Tiramisu type dessert that has hints of anise and sugary goodness. This dessert made me walk home with a skip in my step and rethink my ideas on how gods and godesses manifest themselves.
Things start to go down from there. The Veal Saltimbocco was competent but hardly memorable. The Vanilla Cheesecake? Not only was it lacking vanilla flavor, but it could only be marginally called a cheesecake. It was obviously made off-site.
What was most disappointing? The Penne Marinara. To put it bluntly, the marinara tastes as if it comes from a jar, or as a dining partner said “Chef Boy-r-dee”. It’s this issue that creates what I call the “Established Enigma”: How can a popular Italian restaurant, that has several dishes which are wonderful, fail on such a foundation of Italian-American cuisine? Why does their Marinara end up lacking? It will be a question that’s on par with “What’s the charm of Ben Stiller movies?” Some people love them. Some people hate them. Neither group can say exactly why.
Machiavelli will go on my list of “Places that I will frequent” but it will end up being one of the places where patrons must pick and choose the items from the menu very carefully. For if someone picks the wrong item, it will prevent them from coming back.