Rione XVII: Seattle, WA, USA
For many of us, Italian is Italian. You got your spaghetti with meatballs, your lasagna, eggplant parmesan, and so forth. Incorrect! That is the Italian that we are exposed to on a routine basis here in the United States. However, like most countries, the food in Italy is very regional, with varying differences from the tip of the boot all the way up to the calf. Admittedly, my knowledge about Roman cuisine is severely lacking, so I can only offer you the tidbits offered here, from Wikipedia.
However, Lindsay wanted to try a new Italian, specifically Roman, restaurant that had just opened up in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Rione XIII was packed for a Sunday night. Well-lit and comfortably decorated, I was intrigued as to what this place would offer…
Our first dish was the mozzarella platter. Thankfully the rest (Lindsay and Tom) were more than willing to share this dish because I really wanted to try it and…it was ginormous. Featuring four types of mozzarella, the dish came with a smoked mozzarella, a house, a buffala and a burrata mozzarella. It was served with thin slices of olive-oil coated bruschetta (a traditional Roman dish). I have to say, it was really nice to get all the contrasting flavors of this particular type of cheese. Admittedly, my favorite cheese now is the burrata mozzarella. There is just something about liquid cheesy goodness flowing from a thin skin of mozzarella that just captures my taste bud heart.
For my personal entree, I ordered the house fish. I can’t seem to remember the name of it, but then again, I had a hard time figuring out what the waiter was trying to say since it was ridiculously loud at the time. However the reason I ordered this dish was because he said it tasted similar to sea bass. It was also found in the Mediterranean (maybe he said flown in from the Mediterranean?). Nice. I had tasted sea bass before and it was one of my favorite dishes. What I didn’t expect was to receive a whole fish with bones in and everything. It was pretty amazing though: having the bones in the fish kept the meat moist throughout instead of filleting the meat and drying it out during the grilling process. Not to mention, I get to eat the cheeks which, while may weird out a lot of people, is one of the softest and most tastiest parts. I refused to eat the eyeball though (my mom would have jumped on this in a heartbeat).
For dessert, Lindsay and I split the tiramisu. Most of the time, the tiramisu that I’ve had usually had a heavy cream topping. Whipped heavy cream is different than whipped marscapone cream. For one, marscapone is much heavier (in my honest opinion) and has a richer, nuttier taste to it. Heavy cream just feels like a really heavy whipped cream, but there it lacks that creamy consistency that marscapone cheese has. It was served in the traditional Roman style, per Lindsay, and was delectably rich. Definitely made for sharing after a huge and heavy meal, the tiramisu was the perfect touch to end the night. I would have to say though, if I didn’t share this, I’d be overwhelmed quite quickly by the sheer richness of this dish. I’m so used to having this dish served as a “lighter” version that for personal tastes, it is almost too heavy for me. It may have been fine for Lindsay who had a salad (if I remember correctly).
All in all, a summary:
- Mozarella platter: **** (4 stars)
- fish w/ grilled vegetables: **** (4 stars)
- tiramisu: ***.5 (3.5 stars)
If you wanted to try out Rione XIII on your trip to Seattle, you can find them here:401 15th Ave E Seattle, WA 98112 (206) 838-2878 website: http://ethanstowellrestaurants.com/rionexiii/