You can tell a lot about a restaurant by its simplest dish. At Raccolto, the West Seattle restaurant opened by chef/owner Brian Clevenger in a new building just beyond the Junction in early November, that dish is cavatelli ($11). It’s a narrow, extruded pasta shell, which here is set in a pool of warm Irish butter and dusted in just enough sea salt and black pepper. It’s toddler food that’s grown up—restrained yet comforting. And it illustrates what Clevenger (whom you may know from Madrona’s Vendemmia and also neighboring East Anchor Seafood) and his team are doing best at Raccolto: The bowls of fresh pasta, made and extruded in house daily, are showstoppers.
Vendemmia, too, made a name for itself with pasta, although there, Clevenger is limited to fresh, handmade pastas. Here, he’s introduced a pasta extruder, which allows him to make the twisty, interesting shapes that hold sauce so well. The chef promises to change the menu frequently, so you may find al dente bucatini, a hollow spaghetti of sorts, tangled with anchovy, Calabrian chiles and marjoram ($14), or it may be prepared with bacon, egg and zucchini in a take on carbonara ($14). The lamb Bolognese ($14), and whatever pasta it’s served with, is the culinary equivalent of a warm hug, perfect for these cooler months.
The menu isn’t focused on pasta exclusively—there are also small plates, which can serve as individual or shareable bites (get the delicata squash soup, $6, if available), and heartier proteins such as whole roasted branzino ($23) and New York steak (price varies). Clevenger has also introduced a chef’s counter, at which five guests can sit facing the open kitchen. Whatever you do, don’t skip the carbs. West Seattle, 4147 California Ave. SW; 206.397.3775; raccoltoseattle.com