Salute of Bellevue
10134 Main Street
Bellevue WA 98004
Italian Meals with Wine and Live Music
By: Steve G
Salute is an Italian term used to show respect or good wishes, literally meaning "health". Upon entering the restaurant Salute, one is quickly inundated with this spirit of Italian culture. While many people have touted Salute as one of the best Italian restaurants on the Eastside, we found it to be a little hit and miss in terms of quality of food and service.
As we entered the restaurant in the early hours we discovered that we were the first patrons of the day. Once the doors closed behind us, it seemed as if the restaurant was completely empty. The PA system was going, and strangely enough it was playing the theme from the Godfather, which gave me a small chill down my back-I half expected to turn the corner to find somebody getting whacked like Frank Pentangeli in the Godfather Part 2. If we heard someone saying something along the lines of "Michael Corleone says hello" I would have bolted for the door. Thankfully, only the waiter came out of the kitchen and asked us where we would like to sit.
Salute has a particularly pleasant ambiance and decor. Decorated with terra cotta tiles and elegant tables and seating, Salute stands out amongst the other restaurants in old Bellevue with a style of its own. During the day it exudes a warm and easygoing atmosphere, while at night it has a quiet elegance that is conducive to romantic dinners or fine dining with friends. From Thursday to Sunday the restaurant offers live music and on the first Sunday of each month Salute patrons are treated to live opera.
We tried the Linguine Pesto con Pollo ($14.00) and the Grilled Salmon Ciabatta ($12.00). Grant noted that the linguine was very good and that the sauce had a vibrant flavor coming from the use of fresh pesto. The chicken was unfortunately not as enjoyable, as it tasted very tough and dry-tell-tale signs of being a tad bit overcooked. While Grant thought highly of the sauce and pasta, it was canceled out by the poor quality of the chicken. He also tried the cappuccino to test if their coffee was up to par. Maybe it is unfair to make an assumption about the quality of coffee, but since Italy is the home of espresso, he figured the coffee should be quite good. After a couple of sips, we found the coffee bitter and suspected it of being over-extracted. He recommends that you might want to stay away from the coffee here.
The other item we tested was the Salmon Ciabatta. This sandwich consisted of a grilled salmon fillet that was seared with a light mayo sauce. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the fillet did not lose any of its moisture through the cooking process. In many situations, salmon can end up being very dry, but Salute was able to pull off a fantastically prepared fillet. The Lollo Rosso lettuce was extremely colorful and fresh and combined with the sandwich, made for a very filling meal. The salad was the highlight of the meal as the crispness of the lettuce and croutons came through. Many establishments contend that their salads are made fresh, but Salute's was simply fantastic. The croutons had a warm feel to them and tasted as if they had been toasted on the spot, which made for a great salad.
The service was hit or miss at Salute. Grant noted that during our visit, it took a while to find someone to seat our party and in addition, when we ordered, no one asked what we wanted to drink. Only several minutes after ordering were we served water. It might have been due to the fact that the restaurant had just opened for the day when we got there, so I adjusted my score to give them the benefit of the doubt.
Prices for lunch entrees were a little steep. Grant noted that at around $10+ for an entree, the price is not bad, but for the rather bland linguini pesto, it's not worth the price. While I found my meal more enjoyable, I too was a little turned off by the price. Both of us agreed that the bump in price is probably adjusted to compensate for the ambiance, which was indeed really nice. Overall, our experience matched what we had heard from others about Salute-mostly good, but also with a few not so good aspects.