Spazzo Italian Grill
16499 NE 74th St
Redmond WA 98052
Fine Italian Competition Heats up in Redmond
By: Steve G
Rising from the ashes of Cucina Cucina, Spazzo Italian Grill offers up a different type of Italian experience than its location's previous tenant. Owned and operated by Schwartz Brothers Restaurants, Spazzo replaces the casual look of its predecessor with something that has a little more sophistication. Originally, Spazzo was located in downtown Bellevue but shut down in 2005 due to lease agreement issues. Eventually Spazzo reopened to satisfy the demands of its fans, but while it doesn't have the view enjoyed by the original Spazzo in Bellevue Tower, it does offer a great addition to Redmond Town Center.
The sheer abundance of copper tables lends a slick and polished look that complements the dark atmosphere inside of Spazzo. The dining area is a little dark at night, but it isn't as private and intimate as you might hope because noise travels far in this place, making it rather loud and chaotic. If you're worried about the lighting, you can always sit at Spazzo's fire pit table. Like the dark fires of Kazadoom (the mountain from the Lord of the Rings), the roaring blaze looked hot enough to forge the one ring to rule them all. All joking aside, the place had a good vibe and features plenty of tables and a towering wine rack.
In terms of service, we found the attendants at Spazzo to be prompt and helpful. When we were undecided on what to order, the waiter chimed and offered his recommendations. Our drinks were regularly filled and the staff accommodated our special food requests.
If you're looking for a tasty sandwich, the Pollo alla Griglia ($11.95) might be the thing for you. Highly recommended by our server, the sandwich consisted of grilled chicken with marinated peppers, pepperoni, fontina cheese, roma tomatoes, and basil aioli. We found the thin cut of chicken suffered from being a little dry, but the ciabatta bread had an excellent springy and light texture. The peppers and fontina cheese gave the sandwich some mildly rich and fruity overtones. As a side dish, the meal came with garlic fries that were decent.
The Gnocchi Pomodoro ($14.95) had a rich taste to it, though we wouldn't recommend it for those with a hearty appetite. Made of little balls of potato dumpling-like dough, the dish was flavored with olive oil, garlic, basil, and small cuts of tomato. With just the right amount of basil and garlic, the gnocchi didn't result in an overpowering garlic breath that could be a deal breaker on a date. The sauce wasn't extremely oily and the consistency of the pasta was tender, almost to the point of being doughy.
The prices at Spazzo range all the way from $12-18 for pasta, pizza, and panini to $20-$25 for meat and seafood dishes. While the gnocchi was enjoyable, we felt the portions didn't to justify the $15 price tag. Likewise, the pollo sandwich had the same problem... particularly regarding the cut of the chicken. For that price, we had hoped for a better cut of meat, slightly larger portions, or maybe even an extra side.
The Gnocci Pomodoro basically consisted of rolled up balls of pasta cooked in an olive oil with a dash of garlic and basil. The texture is very chewy and soft. Fans of gnocci will not be disappointed by the quality at Spazzo's. What you might be disappointed about is the quantity. With only around 10-13 pieces, you'll probably end up finishing the plate quickly pondering if you should order something extra. At $15.00, this gnocci is a little pricey. Those looking for a light meal are sure to love this dish, otherwise I'd advise you to order another side dish or just skip it altogether.
Tastiness, Pollo alla Griglia is thy name! I'm always on the hunt for a tasty chicken sandwich and was happy to find that this grilled chicken retained a slightly crispy texture with a pleasant, smoky flavor. However, the cut of chicken was pretty thin so parts of it were overcooked to the point of dryness. The ciabatta bread, with its light and springy texture, was an excellent choice for this sandwich and the peppers and fontina cheese added nice, tangy, and creamy flavor overtones. But, the pepperoni was cut atomically thin and was pretty much lost in the flavors of the other ingredients. On the plus side, the basil aioli helped to moisten the sandwich without turning it into a soggy mess.
The garlic fries were decent but they were nothing like the fabled fries at Safeco Field, but maybe that's for the best if you're off to a business meeting after lunch.