Last night M and I finally got to Via Tribunali. We originally tried to check them out in early November a few days after they were scheduled to open. But, when we arrived, we found they had not quite made their opening date and the people inside were not waiting to serve us but were trying to get the last little touches finished.
Between the holidays and both she and I being out of commission with colds and other ailments the last few weeks it took us until last night to give it another try. And then yesterday The Accidental Hedonist wrote about her experience there! Dang the word is out! Actually, I’m glad though. Via Tribunali is a place I want to go back to. And I decided a long time ago I’d rather spread the word and have my favorite places be hard to get into rather than keep them a secret but only until they close their doors due to lack of business. :-)
Our experience started a little differently than others have reported. We had planned to get there on the early side to try to beat the lines we were sure would be there on a Friday night. We arrived at 6:45 to find that we didn’t actually beat the lines but at least we were ahead of the game by a bit.
We signed in, waved to a friend of ours who works there (and also at Caffe Vita, Via Tribunali’s sister establishment) and then secured a seat in the waiting area that had just been vacated. Just as we were settling in a woman came running from the front room directly at me and yelling with panic in her voice, "Your hair’s on fire!". And sure enough it was! There were candles on the ledge behind the waiting benches and I normally watch for those things but overlooked it last night and got a little too close to one. Thanks to the woman and M the fire was slapped out in no time, although I’m thinking M may have been enjoying pounding on my head a bit too much! :-)
Other than the disgusting smell that permeated the place and the few handfuls of hair that I lost, not much harm was done. I was, surprised though that no one "officially" checked to see if I was okay. The friend came over but only because he was already on his way over and brought us each a complementary glass of wine but he would have done that anyway. So, I think the staff may need to mature a bit in terms of customer service.
Having said that do not let it dissuade you from enjoying a fun and tasty meal at Via Tribunali! As has been reported, the pizza is light and crisp with beautiful, creative and fresh toppings. We started with the Salumi Antipasti platter and, if you’ve read other postings of mine, you’ll know I can’t get enough Salumi products! Then we shared the Pizza Via Tribunali – I always like to check out the item that a place names after itself. That can tell you a lot about the place. It was a richer variation of a Margherita Pizza – squisto!
I also love the ambience and it’s not surprising. It looks amazingly like my favorite hangout, Queen City Grill. And in talking with our friend, we found out that was on purpose. Hmmmm. And the walls resemble another Seattle favorite (I’ll not disclose the name as it’s in the same neighborhood.) When warmer weather rolls around, they will be able to open the "garage door" and have covered outdoor dining. Can’t wait for that.
If you go, make sure you know the address is 913 Pike. That’s the only marking you’ll see. It seems to be part of the planned mystique to not actually have the name on the establishment. Seems rather contrived to me. Especially considering that a bit later in the evening I was wandering back that way, when a confused Italian woman asked me if I knew where the place was. Her husband was parking the car but they weren’t sure they were in the right place and with her limited English I could see she was feeling a bit frustrated. Of course, I was happy to direct her to the entry way but wouldn’t it have been easier if she had just been able to locate it herself?
Right now they are open only Tuesday – Sunday, 5:00 pm – 11:00 or a little later. Plans do include training more people so that they can extend hours, which may or may not help the lines. In the meantime, plan on putting your name on the list, grabbing a glass of wine and waiting for a bit – just beware of the candles on the ledges!
Update Feb 21: I should have posted this some time ago but just remembered to do it…. sorry! On January 27th I returned to Via Tribunali with K. We were hitting the Century Ballroom for Salsa a bit later and thought this was a perfect spot to grab a bite. The evening didn’t get off to a great start when the hostess estimated our wait time to be 15 minutes and 45 minutes later we were still waiting. Finally, at just over an hour we were seated. All things considered I wasn’t too concerned – the time had passed fairly quickly with K and I catching up on several things. We ordered a salad and the mushroom pizza. And that was the problem. Don’t under any circumstances order the mushroom pizza or anything that includes mushrooms. They are canned and slimy. Bleah! On top of that the pizza wasn’t cooked quite long enough or maybe it was that the slimy mushrooms made it soggy. Either way, it just didn’t work. I’ll still go back again but I’m not going anywhere near mushrooms!