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Taste the experience

Adesso in downtown Olympia dishes up Italian and Mediterranean goodness

Seafood paella is a favorite at Adesso. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

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Where: 109 Legion Ave SW, Olympia, 360.705.2529
Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.,Tuesday- Friday, 5-10 p.m.; Sat 5-10 p.m.
Cuisine: Mediterranean, Greek, Italian and continental dishes of seafood, pasta, pizza, salads, sandwiches and appetizers.
Scene: Casual dining with a somewhat Italian vibe. Furniture layout is uncrowded and decent for semi-intimate dining. Family-friendly, though not child-focused.
Drinks: Full bar, international wine list, coffee, tea, juice and some soda.
Prices: $5-$23

ANNOUNCER: Adesso, a downtown Olympia restaurant that opened in the spring, features Italian, Greek, Mediterranean and continental cuisine on a menu offering dishes such as gyros, pizza, risotto, pasta, puttanesca, crab cakes and mousaka. Initially open for three square meals a day, breakfast has since been axed, with the focus transferred to lunch and dinner. Owner and chef Rudy Viggiano brings more than 20 years experience to the family-friendly eatery.

JAKE: Jumping right in, we tried a sampling of things. In my book there are only two categories for ceviche: good and bad. The appetizer we ate wins a gold star. Plump nuggets of white fish, small bay scallops and other seafood mingled with cilantro, red onion and garlic in a martini glass. Thick and chunky, I could have eaten it with a fork. Baked, herbed and salted pita triangles made a great replacement for tortilla chips.

JASON: I was torn over what to order: the pork tenderloin, salmon, a calzone, Marsala chicken, cannelloni or prawns? I went for something not seen frequently: escargot. It's like tofu; snail takes on the flavor of whatever it's seasoned with and cooked in (had the same experience at Marrow in Tacoma). Served sans shells, these little meaty morsels come in a dish with small divots in it for them. A buttery sauce of garlic and herbs with a hint of lemon dominated the flavor spectrum. I can honestly say I have no idea what actual snail tastes like and I think I'm glad about it. As far as texture is concerned, the consistency was that of a chunk of long-simmered, tender-yet-firm chicken. I quite enjoyed it.

JAKE: Service was friendly though spotty, and food can take a while. I'm willing to forgive both if - once food arrives - it's worth the wait. I was stoked to see polenta, risotto and garlicky mashed potatoes as the three choices for starch. I'm completely over baked potatoes and fries (must be the end of barbeque season). The polenta was disappointingly watery and borderline mushy (its flavor was buttery with subtle saltiness). Sadly, the polenta was the best thing about the braised veal entrée. It arrived 80-percent cold, with its saving grace being the wine sauce, which brought the temperature up for the parts it covered. Long wait, cold food = Fail. I buried my head in the wine list in between bites of freshly baked bread with pesto butter.

JASON: With fond memories of the paella on Vashon Island still in my head, I opted for Adesso's seafood paella. Owner and chef Rudy Viggiano has done marvelous work here. Using seasonal vegetables and seafood, a large bowl holds still-in-shell mussels, clams, slices of fennel-spiked sausage, tender chicken, prawns, little scallops and more. In stark contrast to the veal, paella was steaming hot. It's a timing issue; I think the veal was plated and then waited for the paella to finish.  Creamy rice was scarce and tasted so good I wished for more of it. Zucchini, carrots, onion and red bell pepper added to the fantastic flavor array. Not one ingredient was over or underdone.

JAKE: For a less expensive dinner, house-made tzatziki is tangy and a beautiful complement to the savory meats in Greek gyros. Warmed pita, fresh chopped vegetables and an herbed olive oil dressing make it a somewhat authentic dish. I was really hoping for Greek pilaf with tomatoes, but the only side options are fries or salad. 

JASON: Leery of dry, cake-y tiramisu, what is served at Adesso can only be described as dessert soup. Arriving in a bowl, ladyfingers were completely covered in whip cream that liquefied and required a spoon.

JAKE: You liked it. You ate your dessert soup right up.

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