120A Park Lane
Kirkland WA 98033
Hidden Italian Dining on the Eastside
By: Grant Y
Walking down a quaint neighborhood like street in downtown Kirkland, you wouldn't expect to find a restaurant serving gourmet, quality Italian food.
Or would you?
Enter, Ristorante Paradiso. While rather nonchalant and unassuming on the outside, you'll feel warmly greeted when you enter through the doors and encounter both the smiling hostess and fireplace. Being small is part of the character for this restaurant, as the feeling is intimate, with a collection of paintings hanging from the walls, wine racks in the back and warm colors throughout. Coupled with an extensive wine list, Ristorante Paradiso should be on your list of Seattle restaurants to visit.
The lunch menu which offers close to a dozen entrees, ranging from various classics such as linguine and lasagna to more stylized dishes. Most entrees range in price from about $10 to $15, so while not yet expensive, meals are more pricey than your average lunch. Dinner usually ranges close to $15 to $25 for entrees.
The Chef Seattle review of Ristorante Paradiso took place at the tail end of the lunch rush, where we ordered two classics - lasagna al forna and linguine with Italian sausage along with a cannelloni dish stuffed with veal, beef and cheese. The woman who took our order appeared to be the owner, and was very friendly and helpful. During our wait, another waitress brought over a bread plate that consisted of tiny loaves of toasted bread flavored with butter, garlic and a few other spices that tasted like pepper and salt. Though a seemingly simple recipe, it tasted quite good and vanished quite quickly among our three reviewers.
For the entrees, the lasagna came out very good, with a rich and flavorful sauce that truly accentuated the meat and pasta. The pasta itself tasted fresh, while the meat and cheese were both a delight. The cannelloni delivered as well, with a similar tangy, rich sauce that worked great with the mozzarella cheese. Steve comments that the mozzarella was a major plus, giving both the taste and consistency high marks. The veal and beef also were delicious and had the great melting feeling when hitting the tongue. The linguine came out fresh and the pasta tasted good, but Lenny comments that the sausage wasn't remarkable and that the white sauce was a little too rich and overpowering for his taste.
As for service, we were seated promptly service was quick during our meal. The owner was very friendly and inquired about how we were doing a number of times, so we had no complaints. All three reviewers did notice however that one of our waitresses seemed to have a consistent frown on her face, although she did her duties just fine. As such, even in our reviewing guidelines where we do not share reviews until after they are submitted, each reviewer specifically noted this but made a point not to dock this against the restaurant's service score. You could say that us at Chef Seattle understand when someone is simply having a bad day.
The overall score from Grant and Steve both came out identical. The main factors were excellent food, fast service, intimate atmosphere and reasonable pricing. While food portions were not considered big by general standards, they were not small and for the value, worth the price. Lenny differed just a hair on the other categories, with the exception of food, which came in at 7.
All three reviewers did concur to recommend Ristorante Paradiso as excellent Italian food for the eastside (and in Seattle in general), so Ristorante gets the Editor's Choice award from Chef Seattle.
Tips: Our review came at the tail end of the lunch rush, although our experience is that Restaurante Paradiso is a fairly popular place, especially during peak hours. Thus if you do go during dinner hours, we do recommend reservations if you don't want to wait. Otherwise, expect to wait anywhere from 10 to 40 minutes depending on the day of the week.
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