Open Table's Italian Top Ten

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Enza w snapper.JPGOf all the reservation services, coupons, savings cards, online discounters, and outright scams that are designed to lift money out of your pocket (money that you were going to give a restaurant but are now giving to an outside party) the one that's come out on top is OpenTable. It's even more expensive (for the restaurants) than, say, Groupon, but it's free to users, the reviews and ratings on its website are a far sight better than Yelp's (pretty low barrier, admittedly) and over the years it has built up a broad base of loyal supporters.

So it's interesting to look at OpenTable's most recent news regarding the 1,900 or so restaurant listings in the greater Seattle area. When they say "Best," the actually mean a combination of "fewest complaints" and "most favorable reviews." One list of Best American, another of Best Italian.

Atop the Italian list is Capitol Hill's Altura, a fine spot but with a quite pricey $137 prix fixe menu. Two by Ethan Stowell, Rione XIII and How to Cook a Wolf. The usual Italian suspects (Spinasse, Il Terrazzo Carmine, Cantinetta, Pink Door), newcomer Raccolto in West Seattle, and the 15-year veteran Mondello in Magnolia.

What? For Mamma Enza Sorrentino, still working seven days a week at Mondello despite three heart procedures this year alone, the list was a validation that authentic Sicilian fare has a following in Seattle.

Mind you, there are still some weird reactions from diners. This about Raccolto, Brian Clevenger's hot spot in the Admiral district: "Completely disappointed. Every food item we ordered was totally over-salted. We had 3 pasta dishes and all I could taste was salt, salt and more salt." On the other hand, praise for Mondello from an out-of-town visitor, "I am so pleased to have finally found a real Italian restaurant in the USA. The food here is authentic Italian, fresh, simple and totally delicious. I can't recommend Mondello enough. It's a fantastic restaurant and well worth visiting."

As often happens, I want to tear my hair out reading reviews by amateur critics.

Yes, you have the right to say whatever you want. Just as you can vote for whatever orange dirtbag you like. You can make up whatever you want, too, which is pretty obviously what many of the whiners have done.

Note to impatient diners, "slow service" may not be the fault of servers, just a backed-up kitchen, especially if they're cooking from scratch.

Note to OpenTable: That's Amore is not in Madison Park but in Mount Baker. (Geography has never been an OpenTable strong suit.) And the "older gentleman" who ignored a patron at Mondello? Most certainly not the owner, or the owner's mother (who would have been in the kitchen) or the owner's sister (one of the servers). In fact, there is no "older gentleman" at Mondello, never has been. Another reason to take anything you read online with a grain of salt.

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This page contains a single entry by Cornichon published on October 2, 2017 10:00 AM.

Ringing in the Pike Place Market was the previous entry in this blog.

Jon Rowley (1943-2017): A life in quest of the "Beautiful Taste" is the next entry in this blog.

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