Find simple Italian cooking off beaten path at Montalcino Ristorante Italiano
October 11, 2011
By David Hayes
When my wife and I vacationed in Venice, Italy, one of the best meals we had the entire trip came via recommendation of a local resident.
The bed-and-breakfast owner suggested a little family-run restaurant, way off the beaten path away from the usual touristy spots. The food at this hole in the wall was exquisite and memorable for its simplistic, yet bold flavors.
Well, Issaquah now boasts its own hole in the wall, family run ristorante Italiano — Montalcino Ristorante Italiano.
Located on Northwest Alder Place, a block off the beaten path of Front Street, Montalcino brought back memories of Venice with its intimate, rustic interior.
You know you’re going to get personalized service when maximum occupancy doesn’t exceed 30. And in a competitive, growing Italian restaurant market even here in Issaquah, it’s nice to have something to set yourself apart from the others.
If you go
Montalcino Ristorante Italiano
Restaurant reviews are a regular feature of The Issaquah Press. Reviewers visit restaurants unannounced and pay in full for their meals.
The Nardone family has crafted a menu that showcases their family recipes.
The lunch meal was kicked off by some of the best bread I’ve ever had. Its freshness was accented by just a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a dash of freshly chopped parsley.
A group of us skipped the appetizer selections and went straight for the entrées — which might have been a mistake since the appetizer menu features stuzzichino staples such as bruschetta, mozzarella caprese salad, and assorted salumi and cheese.
Every dish on the lunch menu was less than $15, so it was nice to discover a restaurant that didn’t have to be one of those “special occasion” destinations that offer good food, but at spendy prices.
Once our orders arrived, the homemade craftsmanship was apparent on every plate.
The same sauce was used in both the lasagna and the spaghetti and meatballs. It had a rich, cheesy flavor without being too beefy.
The meatballs, I’m told, are a combination of what’s on hand any given day — so you might get ground beef and veal one day and beef and pork another day. Either way, they were delicious, again, in their simplicity. Sometimes a dish can be overthought, with too many ingredients overpowering each other. These meatballs were crafted to be enjoyed each harmonious bite.
Our third diner tried the white sauce in the linguini chicken panna. She found the chicken had a great grilled, smoky flavor, and the sauce was creamy with simplicity again bringing out the best of each ingredient.
If we had found time to linger at the restaurant, we would have loved to sample the many wines the Nardone family produce themselves. And for those diners who leave room, the menu has many appetizing desserts to complete the experience, from homemade tiramisu to the bomba mambo chocolata.
Still shy of being open three months, here’s hoping Montalcino becomes a mainstay of fine cuisine found in Issaquah.