8.9
SEA

Il Corvo

Perfect For: Dining Solo Impressing Out of Towners Lunch Quick Eats
PHOTOS: Suzi Pratt

Certain things in life are just better if you’re first in line. Going to the DMV, riding Space Mountain, running to the bar’s restroom after three cuba libres, or buying anything at H&M. Why are there always so many people at H&M?

Il Corvo is the weekday-only, lunch-only pasta place where you’ll want to be first in line too. It’s the place you skip breakfast to prepare for. It’s also the place you commit to showing up to at 10:30am when they open at 11, even when it’s raining and you definitely don’t have an umbrella because you’d look like a tourist if you weren’t soaking wet and miserable. Most importantly, Il Corvo is the place where others posted up the block will glare at you with a spiteful envy that makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside. They should have known that the early bird gets the pappardelle.

The rules of Il Corvo are simple: you show up early (or prepare yourself to wait in line), you get inside, you continue waiting in line until you reach the counter, at which point you order some focaccia, one of each excellent pasta on the daily-rotating menu (for a screaming deal: about nine bucks a bowl), plus the kale salad if you struggle with guilt issues, maybe some wine, and definitely a biscotti (or three) for afterwards. Only after all that do you get to select your table. That’s where generally showing up first is key. You don’t want to get all the way to the register and realize there’s nowhere to sit and have to wait for the family of four who clearly finished ten minutes ago and keeps repeating, “Oh wow, that was just SO good!” to get the hint and GTFO.

Il Corvo runs a well-olive-oiled machine. The incredible pastas are different every day, they come out in under five minutes (all with heaps of parm on top), and the accompanying vibe is kind of like your Italian grandmother’s house: very minimal and old-school and you’re not quite sure why there are six rolling pins anchored to the wall, but you’re really just there to eat.

If you aren’t claustrophobic and don’t mind casually lunching while the hangry crowd snakes around next to you, you’re going to love it here. If your office happens to be nearby, Il Corvo is perfect for your workday lunch break. Or go ahead and just take a day off, and use it to impress just about anyone (out-of-town or local) with possibly the best pasta in Seattle. Either way, loosen your belt and clear your calendar from 10:30 to noon.

Food Rundown

Focaccia

Warm rosemary focaccia baked with parm on top and served with what tastes like very expensive olive oil. We want to keep this by the side of our bed at all times in case we feel lonely at night. Make sure to save a piece to swipe up the aftermath of your pasta bowl.

Kale Salad

You’re about to eat refined carbs until you need a nap, so something green (besides pesto) is not a bad idea. With this awesome salad you get kale, spiced pumpkin and fennel seeds, parmesan, and a garlicky green dressing. Order this for your conscience but then eat two bites and push it aside when the pasta comes.

Pickled Vegetables

Celery used to be the guy that you would reprimand for being useless and not having a real job. Not today. The pickled veggies are crunchy, briny, and a light break from the heaviness of the pasta, but you don’t necessarily need them.

Pappardelle Bolognese

Luckily for humankind, the bolognese is offered every day. It’s less of a saucy tomato-based ragu and more of a meaty brown paste that clings to the pappardelle just like a needy pomeranian. It’s excellent, but we always gravitate toward the two rotating pastas--they tend to blow the bolognese out of the water.

Root Vegetable Lasange

Your best chance of catching the lasange is for Il Corvo’s baked-pasta Fridays, and if you don’t order it, you’re an idiot. There’s a root vegetable-infused bechamel situation, tomato, and parmesan in-between thick layers of pasta. You definitely want this.

Farro Spaghetti with Mustard Greens Pesto

If Il Corvo had a resume, pesto would be listed under “skills” (next to blowing minds). They play around with different pasta flours and different pestos pretty often, but when there’s a funky pesto AND a funky pasta involved, don’t ask questions and just eat it.

Lumache with Cauliflower Agrodolce, Pickled Vegetables, Chile, and Tomato

Usually, there will be a pasta on the menu that just has a ton of ingredients and sounds like some kind of kitchen sink approach as opposed to something actually fantastic. It’s the latter, every time.

Whole-Wheat Black Pepper Tagliatelle with Mushroom Cream

Il Corvo reigns supreme in cream. This one has the perfect balance of pepper, cream, and mushrooms that don’t taste like dirt.

The Cookie

Slightly salty dulce de leche in between two shortbread cookies. Get one for now and one for later. Do not skip this because you’re “too full.” You are not too full for this.

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