Serafina’s has been an Eastlake staple for nearly 20 years, serving a wonderful variety of Italian lunches, dinners, and late-night snacks. Most nights, you’ll wait for a table or a spot at the bar.
A visit to Cicchetti did not disappoint. With two levels, a downstairs bar and tables, and an upper loft providing some great views toward downtown Seattle, the wood beams, parchment-like lanterns and sconces, and casual tables, evoke the feeling of cafes throughout Italy and much of Europe.
Be advised that parking in that neighborhood is a bear. We lucked out after only one trip around the block, but you might be well advised to find parking a couple of miles away, then grab a cab.
And then there’s the food. While decidedly Italian, there are hints of Spain, Portugal, and Greece on the menu. The menu consists of a selection of cold and hot plates, ten cold and fifteen hot choices on our first visit, as well as a selection of four sweets to end your meal. The wine, liquor, and cocktail menu is one of the best I’ve seen anywhere. It runs to about 10 pages, and has just about anything anyone might want in a libation.
We settled in on a Tuesday night, which turned out to be a good choice because we were seated immediately upstairs – our choice – and were lucky enough to snag the two-top at the window with a downtown view. I’m told on weekends that it’s nutso in the place, which of course adds to the atmosphere.
We started with a couple of cold plates; Gale chose a Tunisian spicy carrot salad with harissa for $4. This was amazing, but you might want to eat this last because the harissa is so spicy that it can numb your taste buds for anything that follows. I opted for the octopus with salsa verde and chickpeas, $7 (photo right). This one was also excellent. If I was going to find any fault, it might be that it was a little light on the octopus. I’d guess an ounce, and two or three ounces of our squiggly little friends would be more to my liking.
For our hot plates, Gale chose the salt cod fritters with Piquillo peppers, $6; tasty balls of cod fish, and I went with Portuguese baked clams with spicy sausage, $11. There were a couple of dozen small, moist and perfectly cooked clams in their own broth, flavored with the sausage and herbs giving the dish an almost a bacon quality. I called for some bread to soak up the liquid. Bread is not gratis, but some great focaccia is only a couple of bucks.
The other dish we shared was the Basque potato fries with romesco dipping sauce, $6. This was the least of the plates we had. The potatoes were tasty with a paprika-like dusting for flavor, but the romesco sauce was too thick for dipping. It could use a thinner consistency for that purpose.
We enjoyed a terrific bottle of a Washington State red wine for $28, and at the end of the meal settled for an after dinner drink rather than a heavy dessert; Gale opting for her beloved Campari, and I chose a Cappellano Barolo Chinato, a digestivi of Barolo infused with a variety of herbs that, while having a medicinal quality, I find very enjoyable.
All in all, Cicchetti looks like a great spot to enjoy food, wine, and great friends. We’ll definitely make a return visit.
Cicchetti – 121 East Boston (right behind Serafina with the entrance on Boston) Seattle, WA 98102 206-859-4155. Bar open Tues – Sat 5 PM to 2 AM; Kitchen Tues – Thurs 5 PM to midnight, and Fri/Sat until 1 AM. Reservations not required, but will be accepted for parties of 6 or more.