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Italia Trattoria

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For all intents and purposes there is little reason for us to revisit the original two year old post on Italia Trattoria. The place is still excellent, with some evolutionary improvements here and there. Hey, why mess with a good thing?

Yet, in case some of you are in need of a reminder, we'll re-emphasize the point: Italia Trattoria is, in our opinion, the best Italian restaurant in Spokane. Sure, the competition might not be fierce around these parts, but that doesn't take away from the quality of Italia Trattoria's food.

We sampled the chicken breast during our last visit, and excellent it was. Served with fresh fregula pasta and a diavolo sauce, this had a very summer-y feel to it. It would probably go well on their porch seating, if you're willing to brave the sun.

Those looking for a great deal might want to look at the $23 three course option. Here you get a Caesar salad -- the dressing has a nice tangy kick to it -- as well as the flap steak, with ice cream for dessert. The flap steak was pretty spectacular, perfectly cooked and seasoned, and served with a very fresh salsa verde. It wasn't too heavy, for being a steak dinner, and again seemed perfectly seasonable. The accompanying fries were very good too.

At this point, of course, some know-it-all will whine about diavolo sauce being American and fries being Belgian, and yada yada yada. That might all be true, but who cares? They go well with their dishes and the Italianess is never taken away from. Just go with it, it's good for you.

Finally, the ice cream was Brain Freeze's salted caramel, and spectacular it was. Really, Brain Freeze makes awesome ice cream. We must not forget that.

Italia Trattoria is great. Excellent. Fabulous. Go revisit them if you haven't been there in a while. The tables have even been moved a bit further apart, making the atmosphere more quiet than what it used to be. Italia Trattoria is one of our current Spokane favorites, so good we're putting it in our rotation. Boom!

Original August 5th, 2010 post

Is it fair to review an establishment the same week they opened? Many will say "no" and those same many will therefore be wrong. It doesn't matter if a restaurant has been open for a day or a year; if customers are to cough up their hard earned cash for a meal they have a right to do some research. Mainstream media, blogs, restaurant review sites... Should a potential customer have the desire to read reviews before going to a place, that is their prerogative. I still firmly believe that anybody with more than an average interest in food should ignore reviews, and figure things out themselves, of course, but that's a different discussion. And, of course, any spot that gives a poor first impression in their early days should be revisited and reevaluated.

Then there are places like Italia Trattoria. Places that run almost flawlessly after a week of being in business. This is the kind of standard new restaurants in Spokane should strive for. Heck, Italia Trattoria's standard is the kind any restaurant should strive for.

For the most part the spot captures the true trattoria feel perfectly. Italia Trattoria feels laidback and casual, with plenty of hearty Italian dishes. The service is friendly and quick and, thankfully, professional. The food, magnificent, the kind of authentic cuisine you get in a classic trattoria.

I tried the Barollo (I thought it was spelled "Barolo" but whatever) braised pork cheeks which were truly delicious. The cheeks were perfectly braised; nice and tender; not too fatty. The chard came as a very flavorful companion. A pork lover's dream, in other words.

Top That's gnocchi, too, was stellar, and a good contender for the best gnocchi in town. Served with a roasted tomato sauce, nice and chunky, this was the type of authentic Italian cuisine Spokane sorely has been missing. Yet, thankfully, no more.

The tiramisu was a bit different than any other I have had. It's hard to explain, but give it a shot anyway, as it was good. The flavor was exactly what I had expected, in fact, it just wasn't layered the traditional way. Which is just fine. The panna cotta was A+. Flavorful and refreshing, served with a nice biscotti.

All the dishes were reasonably priced -- $20 for the most expensive dinner item -- and just the right size. No Olive Garden bottomless plates to be seen. Thank god.

The only thing that put a small damper on the experience was the same issue Cafe Marron had: The table were placed way too close together. Now I'm all for an intimate dining experience and all, but when each table tried to drown out the others by yelling... Well, it got a bit ridiculous. Remove a few tables, and everything would have been so much better.

There is no excuse for not trying Italia Trattoria. None whatsoever. This is as close to a perfect trattoria we have in this town or, for that matter, most other places. Run out to Browne's Addition now and try it, otherwise the Communists win.

(Photo courtesy of @andrewzahler. Used without any permission whatsoever!)