News for Seattle's Ballard neighborhood and beyond

My Ballard header image 2
 

« Ballard Restaurants


Ristorante Picolinos restaurant

Posted by Geeky Swedes on December 28th, 2008


Ristorante Picolinos (Italian)
RistorantePicolinos.com
6415 32nd. Ave. NW (map)

Seattle Times: “Ravioli are splendid. Fried sage leaves garnish the intricate wraps of fresh pasta filled with goat cheese and ricotta…”

SeriousEats: “This is expertly crafted pizza from a pizzaiolo well-acquainted with the flavors of Naples…”

My Ballard: “The food is classic Italian, from pizza to pasta to entrees…”

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (185 votes, average: 3.38 out of 5)
Loading ... Loading ...

Tags: Ballard · Restaurants   Share

31 reader comments so far ↓

  • 1 nicole // Apr 21, 2009 at 12:39 am

    My family (2 young boys, hubby, and myself) went to dinner here Sunday night. The service was good and it was kid friendly. They brought both kids a small roll/pastry shaped like a mouse which was cute. The food, however, was not good. We ordered carpaccio for an appetizer and it had less taste than roast beef from Fred Meyers (but was priced around $11). I asked if they made their own pasta, and yes, they make some of them including the ravioli. Our server raved about the goat cheese ravioli so I ordered that. The dish was literally SWIMMING in oil- very unappetizing and the pasta for the ravioli was so tough I could barely cut it. My husband ordered the tuna, which I know is supposed to only be seared, but it was still cold in the middle. The best part of the meal was the wine (fairly priced), the basket of bread, and the kids macaroni and cheese was actually pretty good. I will not go back.

  • 2 SunHillMama // May 24, 2009 at 11:08 pm

    Try It Again!

    We went right when it opened and it was so so. We went again and it was AWFUL but then they redid the menu and got new chefs and WOW!!!

    It's sooooo good.

    Pricey, but sooooo good. Huge portions. Plan to take some home.

    Kids menu is a little steep. It would be great to see them cut that by at least 1/3. Maybe they don't really, really want kids there. Who knows. Either works for us.

    Fantastic live music.

    Its so nice to have a restaurant with a Full Bar walking distance.

    The bakery is amazing too. I can't wait for the last little piece, the deli on the corner piece, to open.

    My parting words – try it again. You'll be pleased.

  • 3 validates // Jul 22, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    We went for dinner last week with friends. I thought to food was good. We all ordered something different and we were happy with our meals. Our friends ordered some simple pasta for their daughter and they brought it wrong. They did correct this and did not charge for her dinner. They also didn't seem to know which table should get the food. We ordered a bottle of wine to share so I can't speak to the wine pours.

  • 4 ExiledBrit // Jul 25, 2009 at 3:10 am

    Went yesterday to see what the fuss was about and yes, it was pricey but the Endive salad was cool crisp and crunchy and the pasta dishes were creamy and just the right side of al dente, my seafood pasta was spicy and fresh –> but $19 :-(

    They had a pretty talented and non-obnoxious guitar player strumming in the background and, for a Thursday were plenty busy.

    Service was a little random (at their prices I'd expect to have my water glass filled when empty) – I'll go again to try the pizza.

    And there is ice cream across the street for dessert…

  • 5 SunsetHillGuy // Aug 7, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    My wife and I tried Picolinos last night. This is our second attempt. Not sure if there will be a third try. And it is a real shame. We want it to be good. The corner of 65th and 32nd should be the anchor of the neighborhood.

    The place is beautiful. We sat outside and the evening was just the right temperature. Our server was charming. Lots of shouting in Italian and friendly banter going on. So, atmosphere was perfect.

    But. . .

    The service was glacial when it came to actually getting food, drinks, or our bill. On the flip side, we were asked if we wanted more bread five times. And a little guy filled our water (from the carafe already on the table) several times.

    The food was both bland and icky at the same time. I got the crab ravioli in lobster sauce ($22). For some reaon there were little tiny bay shrimp (previously frozen) that had been aging a little too long. The sauce had a sort of sharp-bad shrimp flavor and not a lot of other taste.

    My wife's clam pasta was just bland.

    My coffee was luke warm as if it had been sitting in an air pot too long.

    Bill was about $100. Two mains, one appetizer, one glass of wine, and two beers.

    Unfortunately, it just feels like a lack of pride and attention to detail. Which is odd, considering how intensively staffed the restaurant is.

    So, $100 dinner for two that was a pretty big disappointment.

    We'll probably try the pizza but maybe not.

    Please, please, please fix it. The neighborhood wants you to succeed. But don't charge med-high prices and then give us poor food. It shows a lack of respect for us and for your craft.

  • 6 pjh // Aug 10, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    This is one of our favorite spots! We've eaten here numerous times and only once did we have rather slow service. Everyone, from the owner, to the bartender, to the wait staff has been overly helpful. The food…ahhhhh…delightful! The gnocci is like butter. The goat cheese stuffed ravioli is a favorite of many. And the truffles are a delightful, and not too heavy, way to end the meal.
    I highly recommend this lovely spot in the neighborhood!

  • 7 SunsetHillGuy // Sep 2, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    We tried Picolinos again. Good news! It was good.

    This time we had pizza and soup. The pizza was very good. Crispy crust. Flavorful sauce. The soup was lentil and sausage. It was good too.

    The service was very attentive. This time we didn't have to break out the semaphore flags to get our bill. We'll be back. Hopefully this is the going-forward pattern.

  • 8 patriciaballard // Sep 19, 2009 at 12:30 am

    I visited Picolinos in Ballard this past weekend. I went for dessert and end up in the beautiful patio. I can't complain, the day was wonderful, the sun shining, the cleanliness, décor, beautiful flowers, atmosphere, staff were all well mixed together. I asked for a soup to start. I still can remember the taste, just delicious, then later I got some shrimp risotto, which was the day's special. Prices were reasonable $$$$ worth the money .. and I had some glasses of champagne. I enjoyed the service and staff were courteous, I remember Gutty ,Carlo and Garret who speaks Italian. I don't have anything but good things to say about the service. The three of them were just fantastic and seem to be on top of their guests, which I highly appreciate. I love to go to restaurants and this one is now for sure my Ballard's favorite.
    My advise, go to the restaurant and try it yourself.. or better yet take my advise and enjoy!!! Bon appetite!!! :-)

  • 9 balardeater // Nov 15, 2009 at 10:53 pm

    Top quality and was expecting to pay much more….
    We had great dinner and great pasta, bit of wine some nice music and all for under $25.
    Great atmosphere

  • 10 lindamorton // Nov 18, 2009 at 2:56 am

    This is a wonderful, warm, welcoming place with great food and ambiance. In summer the courtyard is sublime and all year long, the restaurant provides authentic Italian pizze and other entrees served in a charming venue. The next door cafe serves the best caffe italiano in Ballard.

  • 11 Rule9 // Dec 7, 2009 at 3:00 am

    We have been frequenting Picolinos for about a year. They have made great progress and we love the place!
    Our recent visitor from Milan ate there 3 or 4 times and always had the pizza. He insisted it was better than he could get at home.
    Bravo Picolinos!

  • 12 SeattleRichardson // Dec 14, 2009 at 3:48 am

    The wife and I went here for the first time tonight and were VERY impressed. I’ll start right off by saying this is the best Italian food we have ever had in Seattle and it ranks right up there with the best anywhere else. We live in the hood and have been meaning to go since it opened but at first with all the mixed reviews we was in no hurry to go. However, we also heard about their great turnaround and many friends and family said it was a must go kind of place. They were right!

    Everything was great here including the location (for us). We came in early and sat down by the fireplace right next to this nice older couple visiting from Italy who kept telling the waiter throughout the night that Picolinos was better than back home (somewhere in northern Italy but I couldn’t here what city/town). They said it enough times I know they weren't joking or just being nice.

    Anyway, on to the food… we shared the prawns in a white wine sauce, with garlic, tomatoes and a little red chili flakes…perfection to start the meal. For our main course we shared the pasta with bolognaise, and the goat cheese ravioli with brown butter and sage. We found ourselves both saving how wonderful both dishes were and it's rare that everything we ordered was wonderful and better than we thought it could be. The difference for sure was how delicate and homemade the meal was. The pasta was the clear winner and you can tell it's made in the back of the house. It was cooked perfectly with a nice bite and it just tasted great in a way that’s hard to explain. We wanted dessert but didn’t have room for it or an espresso that I wanted to try. The Italian couple had two espressos after their meal….how Italian indeed!

    The staff and service were wonderful and the decor was perfect with a nice holiday touch for this time of the year. Our meal total was $58 before tip. I'm very happily surprised to say this is going to be one of our favorite local spots to go from now on. We both were thinking how nice it will be to go in the summer when we can sit outside on the back patio and listen to music with dinner.

    5 out of 5 stars for this hidden gem in Ballard!!! Please go if you haven't been yet, you won't be disappointed!

  • 13 jcbythesound // Dec 15, 2009 at 12:07 am

    A friend and I went here for the first time about a week ago. My friend has lived overseas for nearly 30 years and has very sophisticated taste in food and exacting standards re service and atmosphere. He was very pleased with all aspects of this restaurant. We had an extremely good meal that was well prepared and served. The recommended wine was wonderful. The afternoon was relaxing and completely pleasant. I was surprised that I hadn't previously been aware of the restaurant's existence and am glad we stumbled upon it. I'll return.

  • 14 64thstreetpeeps // Dec 16, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    My husband and I tried Picolino's a second time after waiting for almost a year for them to adjust. Instead of dining in, we decided to take out and enjoy a meal at home. Our choice was simple and classic – carbonara. How can you mess up this dish, people? Its just some eggs, light cheese, and bacon. A peasants dish shouldn't be too fancy. The Picolino's version was caked with cheese and monster pieces of pancetta that weren't fully cooked. The oil content separated even before the dish cooled. Oh, Asteroid Cafe, please come back and show them how its done. I, also, was in Italy recently on a food trip, and can confirm that this tastes just like Italy – bar food – served as a buffet to anyone who orders a drink after 4. We will make our own carbonara next time.

  • 15 rocoloco // Jan 25, 2010 at 2:52 am

    My wife and I ate there last week. I'm glad I didn't read the reviews (on another review site) beforehand because I wouldn't have gone. Nevertheless we went because it's nearby and is certainly a pretty place.

    We liked it a lot. Was it the best Italian restaurant I've every eaten in? No, but it was excellent and we feel we got our money's worth.

    We had the endive, fennel and date salad which they split for us. It was delicious. We then each had a special. I had the halibut (pricey) with olives and my wife had the breaded pork chop. Both were excellent – and for our lunches the next day as well. I had the spumoni for dessert which was disappointing.

    Our waiter was Carlo, a former restaurant owner himself, who provided excellent service.

    A couple of comments on other postings: I think it's very important to ALWAYS ask the price of the specials if they aren't given – which they should be. I too was burned by this once and never again. (As an aside, my wife taught me to ALWAYS check the bill for mistakes. You'd be surprised how many I've found over the years!) We didn't have the pizza. I'm not sure why someone would go to a restaurant like this for a pizza especially when here in Seattle it would take a long time to eat at all the “my favorite” pizza places.

    I hate to say this but we will have to give Picolinos another try before we take friends there, not based on our experience which was fine but on what I've read. Perhaps we just hit it right or, perhaps they've got it right. My guess is the later is true.

  • 16 mbarnes11 // Feb 15, 2010 at 2:48 am

    I see you just like to complain a lot. Good morning.

  • 17 Name // Feb 21, 2010 at 10:41 pm

    took my mom to lunch on her birthday. meal was unimpressive. she said she felt sick afterwards. i want to like this place, but we won't be back any time soon.

  • 18 Name // Mar 16, 2010 at 1:46 am

    In the March issue of Seattle Metropolitan, they reviewed all the best pizza in the city. There were several Ballard contenders (Like Veraci and Delancey) and others in the Neapolitan category (the ones that are certified like Tutta Bella and Via Tribunali). No one said anything about Picolinos… Why didn't Picolinos make the cut?
    It makes sense- I've tried all the pizzas in Ballard, and Picolino's is definitely the worst. Plus, the atmosphere is really weird. What's going on? I think something just smells bad. I would rather wait for an hour at Delancey's.

    -Ballard Lock Lady

  • 19 Mrs. Murphey // Jun 8, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    I wanted to like this place too. But, the managers attitude that accidents happen, and mistakes are to be expected left me dismayed. If that attitude was accompanied by some sort of graciousness, and concern a minor error might have been overlooked. Instead we were ignored on a very special evening. I can’t imagine going back.

  • 20 s // Jun 12, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    So, we went here tonight and left very unhappy! Back story to this. When they first opened, my husband and I thought it would be great to try a local establishment. We are all about local support. Our first impression, even before getting seated was that is was very pinky’s up! The staff was very rude, obvisouly we were not there to give them what they were hoping for, a large bill at the end of the evening. After being seated (I think we put the owner out by that), we waited for a long time to even get our drink orders in. After looking at the menu, which did not strike us as overly exciting, we ordered. I can not honestly remember what my husband order, but I do remember loving what I had. It was a seafood dish, very generous portation and it was good. The other dish, not so much, he did not even finish it. After dealing with a dim witted waitress and paying an over priced bill, we left saying we would never go back.
    In between now and then, we have considered trying them again, being that we read good reviews. So, wanting to please the child who wanted pizza, wanting to have outdoor seating and not wanting to travel outside the neighborhood, we decided to give it another try.
    First….the owner once again seemed really put off when I asked about sitting outside…very grumply he said “well, lets see what we can work out”
    After being seated, looking around, I thought not so bad, the area was nice out there. Our bus boy was really nice, we could smell the pizza ovens, nice.
    Second, our waiter was very “PINKY UP”, I mean really, we are in Ballard, not the Eastside. Looking over the menu and not seeing beer, we asked what was on tap, he seemed annoyed, but told us. Then he flipped the attitude and asked the child if a shirley temple was in order. Of course it was, who would turn that down.
    Then we decided what we are going to eat. The child was getting a cheese pizza, I ordered the rigatoni alla salsiccia, the husband ordered the pappardelle al viteallo. Our’s had no flavor at all, at all! The pappardelle was completely soaked with chicken based sauce, mine had no flavor, but the boarhead sausage was good. The pizza was GROSS! I really expected more from them, considering the hype and set up. We did express our feelings, got nasty looks from who I am sure are regulars to this tastless establishment. They nicely took off the order that was the worst, the owner came up and offered an annoyed apology, the bus boy was the nicest out of them all. They also gave us a lovely piece of mousse. But, that in no way makes up for 2, TWO, bad experiences there. WE WILL NOT RETURN OR RECOMMEND THIS PLACE, EVER!

  • 21 Gerda Cunningham // Jun 30, 2010 at 12:13 pm

    My husband and I wanted to give Picolinos a try for a night “out in Ballard”. We quickly decided that this will remain the only visit to what could have been a lovely location and restaurant.
    The service was slow and the waiter requested the meal order before the drinks. Given all the european appearance one would expect a little leasure at least at the end of the meal, but oh no, no sooner was the last bite taken, the bill appeared on the table, yikes!
    The appetizer of salmon bruschetta was more thrown togther than gently arranged. It was way to salty, and a little sad looking. Sized for 6 people and not two. The Ruccola salad was too large and dry, too much cheese and not tasty. The pasta serving for one appeared on a huge platter, like a meal for 4, and was only edible. The bsique soup was the only “allright” part of the meal, but too salty. For desert we shared a chocolate mousse which was decorated with unfitting sweet cherries, and more chocolate sauce. The only saving grace was that the wine was nice.
    As to the wine, the waiter wanted to know if were ready for a “second round”, as if we were in some kinfdof competition…Yes, we needed that second glass just to make it through the dinner.
    Yes, we could have left much sooner and not complained at this site….

  • 22 Debla // Aug 23, 2010 at 2:04 am

    Really love this place. Ravioli is amazing. My experiences have been great but would like to see the menu change a bit more frequently or have more of a variety. The one thing that was incredibly annoying and almost ruined my romantice dinner was the bartender throwing empty bottles into the back – into a box or something I presume. Apparently alot of bottles of wine are emptied in a night. Every few minutes – we'd hear, clang then again, clang – so frustrating! He was a bit casual for the quality of the reastaurant. HE should be working at a bar – not a nice restaurant in my neighborhood.

  • 23 phinney // Sep 4, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    Had dinner there on Sat. 9/3. We ordered a pasta dish (Rigatoni with wild bore sausage in red cream sauce) and a pizza. Food was excellent! service was a little slow, but the place is huge and they didn’t have that many servers. The reason the service might be a little slow at times is the same reason why you don’t have to wait – the place is big. (we walked straight in at 8 p.m.) server was a very nice guy, and did a great job. Pizza was very good and you can see the via tribunali influence. (i guess they got a guy from there) Had the tiramisu for dessert and was a little skeptical when it came in a sundae type dish, but it was excellent. i guess they have a new menu again. from the revues, sounds like they’ve had some growing pains, but i really liked it. i lived in CT for a while, so I tend to be a tough sell when it comes to Italian. we had dinner, dessert and coffee for $50. I also had a beer. I’m going back.

  • 24 phinney // Sep 4, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    Had dinner there on Sat. 9/3. We ordered a pasta dish (Rigatoni with wild bore sausage in red cream sauce) and a pizza. Food was excellent! service was a little slow, but the place is huge and they didn’t have that many servers. The reason the service might be a little slow at times is the same reason why you don’t have to wait – the place is big. (we walked straight in at 8 p.m.) server was a very nice guy, and did a great job. Pizza was very good and you can see the via tribunali influence. (i guess they got a guy from there) Had the tiramisu for dessert and was a little skeptical when it came in a sundae type dish, but it was excellent. i guess they have a new menu again. from the revues, sounds like they’ve had some growing pains, but i really liked it. i lived in CT for a while, so I tend to be a tough sell when it comes to Italian. we had dinner, dessert and coffee for $50. I also had a beer. I’m going back.

  • 25 hmmmmff // Oct 22, 2010 at 2:30 am

    Nice chairs, candlelight, very good waitstaff, but the food was not good. The menu doesn’t give enough details on what you get so it is hard to pick out anything that sounds good. Not wanting to waste $$ on a pasta and red sauce dish we opted for pizzas. The traditional pizza was bad compared to other oven fired pizzas in the area. the specialty pizza had some flavor but not worth the $$. Why does this place exist? Mediocre food for too much $.

  • 26 Ndskys // Jan 22, 2011 at 4:33 am

    Had dinner here recently and ordered the special of Veal and rissotto. It was quite tenderly scrumptious and everyone at the table sampled it and agreed. Came on a bed of tasty rissotto. Just loved it. The atmosphere was lively and we sat at table next to the piano player but somehow she DIDN’T drown out our conversations. All around nice evening. Thanks.

  • 27 ballardite // Feb 16, 2011 at 9:25 pm

    I really wish I could recommend this place. We live right around the corner, so were very excited when they first opened. We went the first week they were open – seated nearly an hour past our reservation time, service painfully slow, food only ok and the server forgot to bring our appetizer but didn’t forget to charge for it.

    So we thought “opening jitters”, and waited three months to go back. Same deal except this time there were many empty tables so we couldn’t figure out why it took 45 minutes to make a pasta dish.

    Some time later, we hear there’s a new chef and new menu. We try a third time. The food is much better. But the service is still appalling. We actually had to grab a bus boy to look for a waiter after we’d been there 20 minutes and not even seen him. We only managed to get one drink out of him, although I’d have liked a second glass of wine in the 40 minutes it took to bring out dinner, but he was nowhere to be seen. After the food was plopped down, he immediately disappeared, never to be seen again. It eventually became clear that he wasn’t going to return, we sought out the manager to let him know that we wanted to pay and leave! I want to support local businesses, but there need to be significant changes in customer service here.

  • 28 Derikh13 // Feb 21, 2011 at 12:34 am

    I live close by so I enjoy having a drink at the bar but every time I have dinner there they mess it up. I am vegetarian so, of course, they somehow find a way to modify my order to include a meat product. I once ordered something that came with a red sauce. When I got my food I noticed the distinct taste of bacon and, sure enough, they had substituted plain red sauce for a red sauce with bacon. Even after I told the waiter I am vegetarian. This type of thing has happened to me three times! On the bright side, I have rarely had to pay for a meal because they always mess it up :)

  • 29 Scott // Mar 27, 2011 at 1:32 am

    Excellent far beyond our expectations; in fact, this was the best restaurant meal I have had in Seattle in the 7 years I have lived here. Picolinos food could stand up for itself in New York City.
    When we first walked in I thought the look was just slightly pretentious for a Ballard neighborhood Italian pizzaria, but also noted the tables are well-spaced and for a cloth tablecloth/napkin, big silverware, and candle-on-the-table place it felt relaxed.
    We had carpaccio and spinach salad to start. I’m thinking “wow, these guys can do lite food.” Our daughter’s child gnocci plate, which we ordered as an afterthought came out, and she starts freaking out, just stuffing, stuffing, stuffing bites in one after another. She enjoys good food of all kinds, including kim che, but this was unusual even for her. Seeing her reaction I tried them, and quite approved my daughter’s gluttonous behavior. They were garlicy, spongy bites of olive oil covered heaven. “Stuff on girl.” We followed our waiter’s recommendation of the lamb chop and halibut specials, and he did not steer us wrong. The meats and sauces were high quality, well-prepared, and very tasty. The side potatoes and vegetables were also very good.
    The service was perfect for my taste. Our waiter was not in a hurry once we were seated; we had time to relax and settle into the environment before he showed up and started providing choices, etc. He helped us with a high chair on request. When I asked him for his recommendation, he reiterated that the specials would be very good choices, but he did not push, overdramatize, or go on and on. And he did an excellent job managing wine, water, place settings, and delivery of the several courses to our 4-seat table with a grabby 20-month-old basically making 1/3 of the table no-man’s land for anything hot, sharp, or breakable. He was very skilled, low key, perfectly relaxed pace (faster than Italy, a little slower than most fine Seattle restaurants), and he ensured we had an excellent environment in which to enjoy our meal.
    I will never again advise our visitors that Seattle has many fine choices for Asian and seafood, but not Italian. Picolinos is a very good Italian restaurant, and we are very fortunate to have them in Ballard. We’ll have to go back and try the pizza.

  • 30 Cirikoden // Apr 28, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    Went there for happy hour to try out the restaurant. They were very gracious and let us sit at a table near the bar since it had not yet become busy. The service was excellent, food was wonderful and portions for happy hour were generous. I will go back again for dinner.

  • 31 pedalpusher // Jun 8, 2011 at 3:27 am

    We were very excited to have a restaurant in the neighborhood but we’ve been there three times since it opened and have been hugely disappointed each time.  First time the food and service was bad.  Second time they placed our large party next to the “entertainment” and we couldn’t hear ourselves talk–plus the food was lousy.  Third time the food was bad and the service was lousy.  We are giving up. 

Leave a Comment (read our comment rules)






News from the Seattle Times