photo credit: Nate Watters
When you were a little kid at the supermarket, after some meltdown you had about dunkaroos not being in stock, something caught your crazed toddler eyes: it was a wire basket filled with different colored bouncy balls. Mom said, “Okay, but you can only have one,” as she placed her box of Franzia in the cart. That day, you learned about making choices. Which was tough, because picking out a color when you’re four is extremely stressful.
Raccolto, a new West Seattle pasta spot, falls into the basket of the many other Italian restaurants in the city to choose from. And while it’s good, it’s not good enough that we’ll pick it over the more exciting ones around town.
That wasn’t our first impression - when we first visited Raccolto, we were pretty blown away by the pasta. Specifically, the cacio e pepe: it’s made with little ridged gnocchi that look like roly poly bugs but taste like peppery partytime, and it’s one of the best bowls of pasta in the city. On subsequent visits back though, our experiences weren’t as outstanding. The other pastas on the menu are the embodiment of what Coach said to you when you didn’t make the heinously unnecessary flag-twirling team in high school: good technique, valiant effort, but missing the it factor. The second-string pastas here are the bolognese that needs more lamb, and a rigatoni with broccoli rabe and pork that tastes like what would happen if Wolfgang Puck was the CEO of Stouffer’s.
Raccolto’s interior is also not the kind you’re going to be thinking about the next day. It’s nice, but kind of boring. The best parts of place are that you can watch the cooks saute stuff behind the open kitchen, and if your friends all mysteriously flaked out on the dinner plans you had, joke’s on them: the bar in the back is practically designed for solo eating. All the minimalistic furniture is either white, black, or light wood, and there’s a strange amount of empty space. Essentially, welcome to the as-is section of an IKEA.
If you don’t live in West Seattle, your one reason to go out of your way for Raccolto is the cacio e pepe. Given that the menu changes often, you might even find your way here on a night when they happen to making something else as mind-blowing. But for us, there are too many other excellent Seattle pasta options to choose from. Just like the neon-colored bouncy balls that would destroy valuables in your home while Mom poured her Franzia, kicked up her feet, and powered on the roomba. Mom was smart.
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A small bowl of dungeness crab, snap pea, fennel, apple, chives, and oh, would you look at that, we yawned so big we hurt our jaws.
Most of the meats at Raccolto are cured in-house, so they’re not a bad idea to snack on with some wine. They also come with big shavings of parmesan, watercress, and grilled bread.
Crostini topped with a smoked fish/aioli/caper situation and a pinch too much salt, then garnished with chives and pickled onion. A nice bite to have with a cocktail to wash it down, but by itself, the salt is a lot.
Equivalent sign noodles (~) with a tomato-based lamb bolognese. There’s a splash of cream and some mint involved, and while it’s also heavy on the salt, this is still a nice plate of pasta. The downside: the lamb was few and far between.
This comes in a parmesan broth with broccoli rabe and braised pork. We could have eaten the pork all day, but a bite of everything reminded us of a Top Chef version of the rigatoni alfredo with broccoli Lean Cuisine.
This is incredible. Little bug-looking pasta in a glorious pool of cacio e pepe sauce and covered in parm. It’s silky and peppery, and it's your order. Don’t use a fork - the giant serving spoon can be used as a personal utensil if you believe in yourself.