12514 120th Ave NE
Kirkland WA 98034
Bold Flavors, Cheap Eats- Not Your Typical Italian
By: Steve G
I feel the need THE NEED FOR SPEED!
Sorry for the Top Gun movie quote, but that line instantly leaps to mind because Cafe Veloce in Kirkland lets you know that they are all about racing as soon as you walk through the door. Veloce is the Italian word for "fast", and whether it be by car, motorcycle or monster truck they are all over it. As you can probably guess by now, Cafe Veloce serves up Italian food, but is the service as fast as the motorbikes they display? We at Chef Seattle headed out there to check it out.
As we entered through the door, we went down a long hallway that opened up to the main seating area. The sign said, "Please wait to be seated" and so we did.
A long time.
Of course, we didn't expect to wait as long as we did to get a seat. The servers looked as though they had just started the day and it seemed like they were all engaged in early afternoon chatter. We even saw the manager talking to a wine vendor who was showcasing his new products to sell to the restaurant. By time we got seated, we had to dock some points for service, as the staff wasn't very quick to jump off the starting line and seat us.
The racing theme is infused in everything inside the restaurant. The tables are all decorated with checkered racing flag tablecloths and antique racing bikes are mounted on the walls, though most of them look like replicas. While some might think this is a little tacky, Cafe Veloce possesses a certain degree of maturity in style that shows it's serious about racing, not using it as some sort of gimmick to draw in customers.
Our server seemed a little nonchalant as he came to the table. Right when we were about to ask about what they would recommend, he walked off about as quick as he came. Maybe we were just a little slow for their pace?
On the menu, Cafe Veloce sports a variety of pastas, panini sandwiches, and pizzas. With about 25 different pasta dishes, 15 pizzas, and 9 different sandwiches, it was quite a challenge to figure out what we wanted to order. Grant ordered the Classic Moto sandwich ($10.00) with its sauteed Italian sausage, red onions, pepperoni, marinara sauce and melted mozzarella. For the most part, the sandwich was quite tasty, with the mozzarella extremely stringy and foccacia buttery. The sandwich can get a bit oily turning the bread into a spongy mess, and with all the rich ingredients you might feel like your heart is about to stop within a few minutes.
I opted for the Muffaletta pizza ($11.00). The smoked ham, wine cured salami, roasted red peppers, provolone and mozzarella cheese were too enticing to pass up. The crust was hand tossed, though it did suffer from being a little burnt. The smoked ham and wine cured salami were cut into thick chunks which had a rich, vibrant flavor. All the pizzas come in one size, with about 8 slices, which turned out to be pretty filling for one person. It's probably best split amongst two people.
Aside from the shaky start in service, Cafe Veloce came through in value and taste. We don't recommend it as a destination spot for all types of people, but if you're a racing enthusiast, this is a great spot to check out on a big race day.