Grazie's Ristorante Italiano
3820 124th S.E.
Bellevue WA 98006
Grazie? Why you're quite welcome!
By: Steve G
Grazie's Ristorante is located right on the outskirts of the Factoria Mall. It's a local chain with three locations in Bellevue, Bothell, and Tukwila. One of their mottos is serving up an authentic Southern Italian experience without having to leave the state. Grazie's prides itself on keeping its employees well educated with the Italian cuisine that they serve by sending them on bi-annual company sponsored trips to Italy to immerse them in the culture. As a result many of the people that work at Grazie's have been long time employees who are well versed in the menu so you don't have to worry about dealing with a server who doesn't know much about the food.
On the menu, Grazie offers a wide selection of antipasti, salads, pastas, pizza, and other specialty dishes. Wine lovers will enjoy a wide selection of imported wines from Italy and California vineyards. As you walk into Grazie's, you'll gaze upon several bags of wheat and an old style espresso machine which adds a little to ambiance. Grazie's utilizes a lot of dark wood finish to contrast against the lightly painted walls depicting Italy. While some people might say that it shows a little bit of age, I thought it gave Grazie's a laid back and homey feel that was very comfortable to be in.
We started off with the Fried Portabella Mushroom Salad ($8.00)with its curly lettuce and crispy onion straws in a potent balsamic vinaigrette dressing. Grant ordered the Salmon Pasta with Cream of Mushroom Sauce, while I ordered the Spaghetti Salsiccia ($13.00) for my entree.
The fried portabella mushroom salad was covered with delectable pieces of lightly battered mushrooms on top of a wild variety of mixed greens. Some might complain that the dressing is a bit much as the the vinegar came across very strong. In smaller portions it works well, but as I got further into the dish the taste became a little too rich for my personal taste.
The spaghetti salsiccia consists of spaghetti in a very rich meat sauce with a large Italian sausage on the side. The pasta was decent, though a bit on the skinnier side. The sauce had nice thick chunks of meat that were rich in flavor. The Italian sausage took center stage for the dish. Advertised as spicy, it had a hearty texture and enough spice to make you eat it in small portions. In fact, sausage was so spicy I ended up not even finishing the entire plate. With each bite, I felt more and more apprehensive about going back to it as it's heat always took me by surprise. If you're looking for some heat, the sausage is sure to not disappoint.
Salmon pasta came served with pasta tubes mixed with bits of salmon covered in a thick mushroom sauce. Grant had some high expectations for the pasta, but it had a few setbacks once it got to the table. The salmon simply looked a little too pink and was clustered in odd bits tasting very rubbery. The pasta was a very soft and the mushroom sauce was fairly standard and far from noteworthy. Sadly he couldn't recommend it to anyone making a stop at Grazie's.
While the food was a mixed bag of reviews, the service at Grazie's was stellar, with the waitress checking up on us several times and even had a little bit of sass that we found very humorous.
Overall, the portions at Grazie were quite generous at about $10 per plate. The presentation of food was quite good and the most of the dishes we had, aside from the Salmon pasta were pretty rich in flavor and quality. While it's not a true destination stop for those not local to the area, Grazie's offers a fantastic option for those in the area with a craving for good Italian food.