Last night we went to Volterra, a wonderful Italian restaurant in Ballard. We've been there twice before and always have a great time, and last night was no exception. We arrived at 6:30 on a Friday night, without reservations, and they managed to seat us right away. Not only that, but the couple before us (who had a reservation) turned down their table and opted for one in the bar, so we got their table in the dining room. The dining room is set up with long banquettes on two walls and tables in the middle. I think ours was the best table in the house--situated in the corner, where the banquettes meet, it's the only table where both diners have a perfect view of the entire restaurant. I couldn't believe our luck! I have no idea why they didn't want that table, but I'm glad we got it.
It seemed like there were a lot of romantic dinners going on; a young married couple 3 tables down raised a toast, and 2 tables over a teenage couple (when did they start looking SO young?) looked like they were out for prom. The older couple next to us was celebrating 6 months of dating. Volterra's tables are quite close together, so it's hard not to overhear; that combined with my curiosity meant that we learned a lot about their relationship. At first, it was hard not to laugh--the gentleman gave his date a full-page, typed letter to read at the table that he had composed "...in my basement, thinking of you." I know computers are great because you can edit while you type, but come on! It's a love letter--it should be handwritten! (yes, I know that my paper addiction makes me less than objective on this matter...) The woman finished reading, and we overheard,"It's interesting, the different details we remember. For instance, I don't remember touching your arm that night." OUCH. I thought he might be in for a rough night, but then she gave him a couple of notes of her own, and you could see they definitely had a spark. In the end it was pretty cute, actually, and it's nice to know that you can find romance at any age. Cue schmaltzy music...
Back at our table, dinner was amazing. Our server, Steven, was so great; he was super friendly, and Larry liked how he was so excited that we were enjoying our food. When the sommelier came with our wine, he gave Larry the last of the bottle, which made for a very generous pour. When he saw the difference between our glasses, he topped mine up too. It was pretty funny how full our glasses were, and yet somehow we managed to drink it all...
We probably should have skipped dessert, or split one between us, but we decided to go all out and we each got our own, plus a cup of tea (served with yummy candied lemon rind and a pistachio biscuit, which we could barely finish). By the time we left I was so stuffed that I could barely walk to the car. But it was worth it, and I'm sure the next time we go I'll have forgotten this incident and opt for my own dessert again.
What we ate.
House Salad--Baby arugula, shaved fennel and parmigiano reggiano tossed in Chianti vinaigrette and sprinkled with fresh chives
Panzanella--Vine ripened tomatoes, English cucumbers, red onions, kalamata olives, white beans, Tuscan bread, house vinaigrette and shaved ricotta salata cheese
Farro Fettucine with Prawns and Porcini--Homemade farro pasta tossed with shrimp, porcini mushrooms, basil pesto, fresh arugula and a splash of cream
Papardelle with Lamb Ragu--wide egg noodles tossed in lamb ragu and topped with black pepper studded Sicilian pecorino
Strawberry Rhubarb Tart--handmade tart topped with acacia honey zabaglione
Braeburn Apple Pie--Homemade apple pie with warm brandy sauce and vanilla gelato