Monday, October 10, 2011

La Spiga (review)

La Spiga Osteria has the look of an expensive restaurant.  This goes a long way in explaining why I had never yet considered eating there.  It looks very cool from the outside and the location is very convenient to me.  I just thought I would go there someday when I was making a bit more money.  What a pleasant surprise when a nearby place was full and my friends were hungry and we ventured in here as a desperate alternative.


La Spiga looks even better on the inside than it did on the inside.  I found out that it has been at this location since 2006, but had another location for eight years prior to that.  I guess that practically makes it an institution, but like most things in Seattle, it was new to me.

I was a little nervous about the bill, but decided that I would worry about that later and just enjoy myself that night with my out-of-town guests.  They sat us in the back near the back door.  We saw this inviting looking patio out back, but nobody was sitting out there.  We decided to ask if we could, expecting them to say the section was closed.  We were happy when they obliged.  The back patio seemed a little magical, like a film set for a cool urban alley.  It was complete with the lights strung overhead and the nearby open apartment windows.  The beautiful weather no doubt helped complete the perfect atmosphere.

When I opened the menu, I was very happy to discover that the prices were very reasonable.  You could get a plate of house-made pasta for the same price nearby establishments charge for a burger.  I was more excited.

We started with the Insalata Caprese.  Now this is a classic, so there is only so much that one can do with it.  If the ingredients are quality, it should be good.  La Spiga managed to make it their own.  They used tiny sungold heirloom tomatoes.  This cut down on the acid in the dish and added a touch more sweetness.  They tossed it with large chunks of fresh mozzarella and basil grown in outdoor pots right next to us.  It is not possible to get any fresher, and the flavor showed it.  Perfect.

A friend ordered the Fritto Misto di Pesce, consisting of fried calamari, shrimp, and bay scallops.  I did not expect it all to be fried, but it was printed right there on the menu.  The seafood was cooked well, light for fried food.

For dinner, I ordered the Tagliatelle Verdi al Cinghiale, or Green tagliatelle with wild boar and white wine ragu.  Like all of the pasta dishes I tasted, it was simple, but great.  Good Italian food is all about the ingredients.  If you use quality ingredients and prepare them right, the food is amazing.  That is La Spiga's M.O.  Seeing wild boar on the ingredient list led me to believe the dish might be a little heavy, but the ground boar and the light white sauce worked perfectly.  The pasta was fresh and perfectly cooked.  The Tortelli alle Erbe, consisted of spinach filled tortelli, fresh sage, butter, and Parmesan cheese.  Again, strikingly fresh and simple tasting, and a delight to eat.  It really worked.

My friend Imelda ordered the Orchetta, slow roasted pork shoulder with rosemary, sage and fennel seed served with fennel and Parmesan cheese.  She was a little taken aback by the big slab of meat on her plate.  I did not have a problem with that.  I guess I am just not that dainty, and it tasted great.  Imelda's husband, Steve, ordered the Tagliata al Rosmarino, or grilled Double R beef tenderloin, sliced and served with arugula, tomatoes, fresh herbs from our patio garden, salsa di vino and potato tortei.  He was blown away.  The beef was beautiful splayed across the plate and perfectly cooked.  It was delicious.  I was glad that I got to try it because Steve does not like to share, especially something as good as this.

The only real negative about La Spiga was the service.  It was not the most attentive, but that could have partially been do to the fact that we were out on the back patio by ourselves.  They were nice enough to accommodate us with that.  All in all, it was a great experience.  Good food, reasonably priced, served in a great atmosphere.  I cannot wait to be back.


  1. Hey, Art - making me hungry again! Sounds so good I'm making pasta for lunch. It won't compare but I'll pretend. So... BOAR?? Am I just a bumpkin? Never knew that was a thing now. Does it, you know, taste like chicken?


  2. I have seen it a few places, and it tastes more like pork. In Seattle I have noticed more restaurants embracing a greater variety of meats like elk and venison.