15600 NE 8th St
Bellevue WA 98008
A Different Type of Pizza Parlor
By: Steve G
Pizzeria Guido is the sister restaurant of the long standing Italian mainstay in Crossroads Mall in Bellevue, Firenze. Located in the northeast corner of the mall across from the movie theater, it is in an ideal location for those looking for quick bite before catching a late night movie. Pizzeria Guido's atmosphere contrasts a bit with its sibling: where Firenze is more enclosed and intimate, Pizzeria Guido is wide open and social. Offering up pizza and some pasta, it also caters to a more casual crowd. Crossroads Mall used to be synonymous with "lower end strip mall", but the introduction of places like Pizzeria Guido and other new restaurants are helping to rejuvenate the area.
As you enter the door, you're treated to large open spaces and simple yet classic wood chairs and tables. The large windows treat patrons to some pleasant natural lighting, and at night each table has its own oil lamp to create an intimate feel. Lining the walls of the restaurant [or stacked in the corners of the restaurant] are many of wine bottles, apparently saved from patrons who ordered from their sizable wine list. A wide open kitchen/bar area gives patrons a view of the staff at work while their food is being prepared. The bar also has a large flat screen plasma TV, which while we were there was showing a soccer match. In addition, all of the posters have an Italian twist to them, which creates the atmosphere of an old-school Italian caf.
The service was pretty much standard--we were seated and served quickly, and our server was very easy going but at the same time was Johnny-on-the-spot with our orders. She even checked in with us about our lemonade, asking if it was too watered down. After tasting a sample, we agreed that it was and she made us a fresh batch right away. Other than the bill getting to our table a little late, the service for the most part was very good.
We ordered the Manicotti ($13.50), Lasagna ($13.95), and Prosciutto Crude e Rucola ($13.95). For starters we tried the Calamari Fritti ($12.50), served with tartar sauce and a slice of lemon. Very crisp and a little bit oily, the overall taste and consistency was fine. It felt a little bit greasy, but it was an adequate appetizer to start off with.
The pizzas at Pizzeria Guido are more akin to Neapolitan styles of pizza i.e. thin crust, rather than thicker types of crust. The Prosciutto Crudo e Rucola consisted of pomodoro, fresh mozzarella, prosciutto, and arugula. The prosciutto was smoky and added a surprising amount of taste. The pizza was a little hard eat, with a few bites pulling apart the entire pizza. The steaming hot mozzarella was rich and very stringy, a true testament to good mozzarella.
Served just as piping hot, the lasagna consisted of four to five layers of pasta, meat and several kinds of cheese. The ground beef was pleasantly chunky and the pasta was made very well. Overpowered by the thick layers of cheese, the lasagna is not for those with a heart condition. This dish felt like a guilty pleasure to me, since while delicious, the generous serving of meat and cheese are bound to cause some unhealthy side effects.
The manicotti was stuffed with imported cheeses and covered in a marinara sauce. Very potent and delicious, it had a slightly salty taste to it that really enhanced the flavor of the meal. The marinara sauce was pretty smooth and pasta was cooked a few hairs under al dente, which is textbook for a good baked pasta dish. Aside from the portions being a little bit on the small side, the manicotti was well prepared and very enjoyable.
Considering Crossroads Mall's humble beginnings as a second tier strip mall, the area has slowly evolved into a thriving retail area with enough local support from people and businesses that make it a place worth visiting. Pizzeria Guido may not be the greatest Italian restaurant in the world, but its a laid-back appeal and variety of traditional dishes make it a good spot to check out if you're in the area.
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