Updated November 17th, 2021
Spinasse is the best fork-up-your-money Italian restaurant in town. While we’re at it, we’ll go so far as to deem it the greatest Seattle dining establishment. Yes, that’s bold, but so is this Capitol Hill spot’s excellence, manifested in the form of incredible homemade pasta and thoughtful service played out effortlessly like an orchestral suite.
The dining room has this old-school meets new-school feel, with enough reclaimed wood to delight your friend who has an Etsy shop, but also a sleek marble bar and open kitchen, where you’ll see pasta maestros at work crafting carb-based magnum opuses nightly. These pastas taste so phenomenal that we often end up not speaking to anyone we come with. And with good reason—when a nest of chewy tajarin coated in silky, cheesy sage butter is in front of you, whatever you or anyone else has to say is really not important. Unless it’s a pasta-related comment.
photo credit: Suzi Pratt
This restaurant is not a secret, so nab a reservation a couple of weeks in advance unless you want to try your luck at bar seats. In the sunny summer months, snack on crispy fried zucchini blossoms stuffed with ricotta alongside a spritz. When the temperature dips below 40, bask in the steam of rich bolognese or risotto doused in Calabrian chile oil, swiping bread to capture the last bits of flavorful sauce. And if you stare at the menu as long as you would a page in “Where’s Waldo” and still can’t decide what to order, there’s a prix-fixe option that incorporates every appetizer, pasta, and entree that comes as a family-style tasting.
Spinasse is a year-round treasure of a restaurant, perfect for any special occasion situation—be it a date, dinner-with-the-relatives, or throw-down group hang. Yes, your wallet might be significantly emptier at the end of it. But given how life-affirming a meal at Cascina Spinasse can be, it’s a lot more valuable than an evening at the symphony.
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Before the appetizers hit the table, you’ll receive a complimentary gift from the kitchen in the form of a small, wafer-thin piece of toast topped with anything from softened butter and anchovy to rabbit pâté. They’re salty, crunchy, and pair perfectly with the first few sips of your wine or cocktail/mocktail.
Ask for extras.
If there was one Spinasse appetizer that we couldn't imagine life without, it would be these tender little cipollinis stuffed with a perfectly-seasoned pork and beef sausage mix in a pool of onion broth and pine nuts for crunch. Alexa, play "How Do I Live" by LeAnne Rimes.
Fried Zucchini Blossoms
It’s tough to find fried zucchini blossoms anywhere in Seattle, but Spinasse gets it. Usually a summer item, the squash flowers are stuffed with ricotta and lemon zest, battered and fried in delicious snack form.
English Peas With Ricotta
Crushed English peas, homemade ricotta, olive oil, and lemon served with bread for spreading. We would eat this even if we had to use a paint stick to scrape it off of a parking lot. If you come here when peas are in season, you’re getting this, and don’t be surprised if when the bread’s gone, you just resort to using your spoon.
Tajarin Al Ragù
A Spinasse staple, and with good reason. This pasta cures those sad, sunset-at-4pm winter emotions. It’s a pitcher’s mound of extremely thin egg noodles covered in a bolognese that isn’t too heavy on the tomato but is heavy on the richness.
photo credit: Suzi Pratt
Tajarin Con Burro E Salvia
Young children and grown adults might not agree on much, but they can definitely come to the same consensus on two things: dentist waiting rooms suck, and Spinasse’s velvety tajarin con burro e salvia does not. For a bundle of pasta that’s simply buttered noodles with cheese and snips of sage, it’s outstanding - and even better than the ragù (if you had to choose one).
Ricotta Cavatelli With Braised Beef And Cherry Tomato
Cascina Spinasse’s best dish: pillowy ricotta cavatelli with tender, saucy braised beef, slow-roasted cherry tomatoes, and a big “here ya go” helping of grated parmesan. The whole thing has warm pot roast-like energy, but the ripe, acidic punch of each tomato reminds you that this dish is only available during late summer. If it’s on the menu, you shouldn’t leave until you eat it.
Agnolotti Di Coniglio
The agnolotti is also something that isn’t on the menu year-round, but when it makes an appearance (usually in the colder months), you want it. Packed with flavorful rabbit on the inside and a highly-concentrated, marjoram-infused double brodo on the outside, it’s perfect if you’re looking for pure comfort in the form of meat-filled pasta.
Maiale Al Latte
Normally, we’d advise you to skip all secondi in favor of more pasta, but all bets are off with the maiale al latte. This milk-braised pork shoulder practically melts into its creamy, herby sauce that you should be spooning onto the accompanying semolina gnocchi wedges with gusto.
You might be temped by the tiramisu, but allow us to sway you in a citrusy direction instead. Spinasse’s zuppa inglese is tart lemon curd, barely-sweet ricotta mousse, and ladyfingers soaked in Acqua di Cedro lemon liqueur, all layered in a glass jar. It’s tangy, custardy, creamy, and an ideal way to lightly cap the meal.