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A taste from Primo Grill's fall menu

New flavors at the creative dining space in Tacoma

Primo Grill's paella adds duck to the mix. photo credit: Jackie Fender

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The 6th Avenue District is perhaps the most widely recognized in the Tacoma area as home to culinary masters. Several of the establishments that line the "Ave" have been nationally recognized on the Food Network for their compelling menus and flavors. While Primo Grill has not yet been among those featured with a highlight on television (sister restaurant Crown Bar was on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives), one thing is very clear: We don't necessarily need a celebrity chef telling us where to dine.

Owners and husband-and-wife team Charlie McManus and Jacqueline Plattner have been bringing Mediterranean-inspired fare from quality, fresh locally sourced ingredients since Primo Grill's inception in 1999 (before food television). Chef McManus's dedication to local is represented in menu items with each changing season featuring produce in its prime. This equates to artfully crafted plates that look as delicious as they taste.

When I heard that the fall menu had been released, I was most looking forward to the pumpkin ravioli with sage butter and Parmesan ($15). It would seem I wasn't the only one with pumpkin admiration in mind, as the ravioli was unavailable during my visit. Naturally, I transitioned to a rumored duck dish sourced from local Calendula Farms with a fig gastrique, which I did not see among the menu items. Instead, I spied the sought-after duck in Primo's paella with a saffron rice, mussels, shrimp and Spanish chorizo ($25). The presentation was lovely with pops of color and flavor from green peas and roasted red peppers. The hearty portions of mussels, shrimp and bites of chorizo were sprinkled throughout, with the duck not so much playing center stage as complimentary partner in crime, with the gamey seared flavor pairing nicely with the slight heat and earthiness of the saffron rice.

Much to my chagrin, my dining partner opted for the pasta special of the evening featuring cremini mushrooms (also in season, $18.50) rather than the Stringozzi featuring chanterelle mushrooms, local heirloom tomatoes and Grana Parmesan ($18.50). Those same heirloom tomatoes make an appearance on the Bruschetta, paired with basil and EVOO ($10).

The service staff is well equipped to answer inquiries in regard to the menu and is well versed in the language of the vine, with loads of wine knowledge to aid guests in proper pairing ideas. And while not technically a part of the fall menu update, the cocktail menu's Maple Leaf concoction of Henry du Yore Rye, Fernet Branca and a maple and pecan syrup is a personal favorite of mine and seems a delightful way to warm the spirit on a chilly fall day.

Primo Grill boasts a casual and warm fine-dining experience with low, twinkling lights and charming painted tabletops setting the tone. The display kitchen highlighting a wood-burning oven front and center only adds to the warmth, both visually and comfort-wise.

For those looking to increase their skills in the kitchen, Chef McManus hosts regular cooking courses that include a glass of wine and lunch with professional instruction from the master himself. Classes this month include the cuisine of Tuscany and Spain. For full class details, visit

And for my gourd lovers, I advise you to arrive early for dinner to nibble on the exquisite pumpkin ravioli as it's sure to go fast each and every evening.

PRIMO GRILL, 4-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 4-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 4:30-9 p.m. Sunday, 601 S. Pine, Tacoma, 253.383.7000

See Also

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Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives in the South Puget Sound

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