In the past few years, a number of restaurants have changed identities while maintaining the same location and the same owners. There are as many reasons for the changes as there are restaurants that have gone through reincarnations.
Vespolina (96 Union Street, Seattle; 682-3590; vespolinaseattle.com) sits at the bottom of Union, across from the Four Seasons Hotel. Vespolina is owned by the same owners as Spinasse. They originally opened a Spanish-themed restaurant, Aragona, which we reviewed in February 2014. They closed Aragona late in 2014 and reopened it with a more familiar Italian theme; the change clearly shows the owners to be playing to their strengths.
Before you get seated, consider sitting in the bar with its marvelous view of the waterfront and the Wheel. There also is one semi-private table in the dining room with a similar view. Another alternative is to sit where you can watch them make the homemade pasta while you dine.
Almost everything is made at the restaurant, except for the bread, which comes from the Columbia City Bakery. The menu rotates each week depending on what is fresh and available. So, while we loved everything we had, you may or may not get to try the same items.
We started with a few of the craft cocktails, including the "Canary Linen Suit," named for the bartender's own famous suit, and the "Lust for Life," a gin and tonic with grapefruit. As is very popular at many restaurants now, the craft cocktail list is both entertaining and creative.
Turning to the food, we heartily endorse the shaved kohlrabi and watermelon radish salad with capers, anchovies and parmesan, as well as the warm parsnip flan, stuffed with foie gras over rice polenta with black truffle. We would certainly order each of those again, together with the malgagliatti with pork and Meyer lemon ricotta; the pancetta with pork belly with prosciutto, kale, parsnips and egg; and the Brussels sprouts with Meyer lemon.
For a main course, the duck was a little overpowered by the Savoy cabbage, but that did not detract from the evening. We shared the bamboni (ricotta fritters) for dessert, but only barely resisted several other tempting items. Obviously, we intend to go back, but we will save it for a special occasion, consistent with the price. Vespolina will be open for lunch beginning June 1.
Spaghetti Western (1802 Bellevue Ave., Seattle; 329-4047;spaghettiwesternseattle.com) is in the running for one of the best restaurant names. Formerly La Bete, located on the west side of Capitol Hill, it is one of the prettiest little restaurants in Seattle, in a hideaway building that was fully street visible, just easy to overlook.
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