Bellevue’s Firenze Restaurant Italiano will make you sing for your supper

Needless to say the Seattle area is eclectic when it comes to restaurants; you can travel the world for dinner and be home in time to watch the 9 o’clock special you have recorded.

When I’m feeling Italian, I want the full experience, the pie in the sky little Italy. I’m not expecting a boot shaped restaurant or gondola equipped with a white and red striped man to row me to my table, I just want whole hearted Italian that makes you want to sing amore. 

Since 1992 Firenze Restaurant Italiano has been the place to figuratively let you hair down if you want a great plate of Italian pasta as well as a dreamy atmosphere.

Now I’ve had a lot of Italian, been to a lot of places but this one you walk in the door and instantly you are feeling like you’ve traveled 6 thousand miles with the stucco walls, dimly lit dining room, and the smell of garlic that’s just enough to make you want to devour a whole basket of their house bread.

The beau and I were instantly greeted in Italian, which was a nice touch, not too phony or over the top like some restaurants with naked babies plastered on the ceilings. 

Owner Salvatore Lembo straight from Italy a mere 25 years ago is always there during the dinner service milling about the dining room. Just hearing him speak you can tell from his thick authentic accent–this man is the real deal.

Salvatore said, “95 percent of our ingredients are straight from Italy, everything down to our flour and spices is flown here so we can have the best of the best go into our food. We use anything authentic we can get our hands on and that is what makes our food taste so amazing.”

Growing up in Tuscany and being immersed in the recipes and fresh Italian ingredients is really what inspires his menu. With a mixture of famous Italian recipes as well as creations dreamed up by Salvatore and his head chef, you are sure to get down to earth, soulful Italian.

Phil Fischer, the Seattle software guru that started the web design industry in 1989 takes his family to Firenze Restaurant almost once a week. He gave me the two-cup scoop on Firenze.

 “The place is amazing. Finally a good, authentic Italian place that looks and tastes like you are in Firenze, Italy and the food is even BETTER”“Salvatore says Firenze’s loyal customers are what keep this ristorante alive and kicking.

Trust me- if you’ve been there you’d know that’s the truth because their customers are treated like familyI had Tortellini Alla Panna a beef tortellini in cream sauce with prosciutto and parmigiano accompanied by a glass of stellar Cabernet Sauvignon Liena Giovanni Chiappini, and being wine-o that I am I ended up having 2.

I now know why people say it “melts in your mouth,” usually I find that saying odd but apparently you don’t understand unless you’ve experienced it, go to Firenze and you will get just that. The glass of Cab really capped it off with the lingering sweet tannins and a raspberry end note.

Want to know why their wine is so tantalizing? Salvatore personally grows his grapes and makes his wine in Italian vineyards that he owns; now you know why people leave his restaurant with a French accent.

“We build a friendship with every customer, whether it is through me, my chef or our wait staff. The atmosphere and hospitality is what brings people back,” added Salvatore.

From their extensive wine list and diverse dishes that are a far stray from just your traditional marinara. Firenze is a great Italian getaway you can hit fresh off of work.

If you are looking for something quick, you can also pick up a pie a Pizzeria Guido a branch of Firenze’s restaurants. With the wood stove ovens and open fire flames it’s the only pizzeria in Seattle that makes Tuscan style pizza from scratch with crust that will make you go tomatoes.

If you’re looking to sit down for dinner or swing by for some authentic Italian take out, they’re nestled right off the main drag at 15600 NE 8th Street Bellevue, WA 98808. Give them a call at 425-957-1077 or visit their website

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