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Crudo & Cotto

Classic Italian presentation and techniques abound in Proctor

Crudo & Cotto offers authentic Italian dishes with a Northwest flare. Photo credit: Jackie Fender

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ANNOUNCER: The owners of Olympia's popular Italian restaurant Basilico have opened Crudo & Cotto in the Proctor neighborhood of Tacoma. Much like their Olympia location, the focus is on fresh, authentic, Italian dishes with a Northwest flare. And though the menu is unique to each place, bread, pasta and desserts are delivered daily from the Basilico kitchen. Jackie and Dutch jumped at the chance to gorge themselves on the new menu.

JACKIE: The Crudo & Cotto space is intimate but charming, the music is set at just the right level to not overwhelm -- you can dine and chat with ease. The lighting is warm, enough to highlight candlelit tables without feeling like a cave. For such a unique space, the owners really paid attention on how best to utilize the space. Plus, an oyster bar in Tacoma?! About dang time. I must note, service was beyond impeccable from start to finish, which during a restaurant's first few months is such a valuable asset. Everyone was kind, accommodating and made it a point to make you feel welcome.

DUTCH: Much of the drink pairing here is focused on the wide selection of wine available, though, there are a few surprise cocktails available if you are not a wine connoisseur -- which I never claim to be. The Grappa Old Fashioned is an Italian twist on my favorite cocktail. In addition to bourbon, bitters and a hint of orange, both Italian Grappa and Amaro are added that enhance the sweet and bitter combination. On that note, the pear salad also combines sweet with bitter and pungent flavors. Slices of fresh pears drizzled with honey are partnered with bitter fresh greens, grape tomatoes, and a vinaigrette. Additionally, a smear of gorgonzola is on the plate for you to mix with your salad with each bite rather than mixed in already.

JACKIE: Classic Italian presentation and techniques abound here, highlighting a balance of fresh flavors and rich bites. I started with the Carne Salada featuring 20-day house marinated beef, lemon, olive oil and arugula with Grana Padano. The meat was a thinly sliced, tender delight, complemented by the pepper greens. For the main course, I indulged in the Braciole. Traditional southern Italian preparation. Teres Major beef pounded thin, layered with prosciutto, smoked mozzarella, fried sage, rolled and sautéed with a cream truffle medley sauce or tomato and herb sauce. The root vegetables were roasted to perfection. I recommend the white sauce which was rich and played nicely with the beef and herb aromatics.

DUTCH: Our cravings were on the same page. I also enjoyed the Braciole; however, I ordered mine with a tomato and herb sauce which may have been the freshest sauce to ever touch my taste buds. I found myself using my roasted potatoes and brussels sprouts to sop up the left-over sauce on my plate. Clearly you can't go wrong with this dish.

JACKIE: Don't skip the dessert! The Torta Cioccolato e Mascarpone is heavenly. The menu describes it as a dense, melt-in-your-mouth, dark chocolate and mascarpone dessert on a hazelnut crust, topped with caramel sauce and dark chocolate, accompanied by whipped cream. Yes, please.

DUTCH: I wasn't able to resist ordering dessert either, but I went a bit lighter. I dove into the Panna Cotta which is an Italian vanilla custard topped with a wild berry compote. The fact that I was in a public place was the only thing preventing me from licking my dish clean.

CRUDO & COTTO, 4:30-9:30 p.m., Tuesday-Thursday; 4:30-10 p.m., Friday-Saturday, 2717 N Proctor St., Tacoma,

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