Dining Italian from Siena to Seattle.

SEATTLE–Well, first there was the disappointment of not having a parlor car on the Coast Starlight coming up from Oakland. Now there is the disappointment of realizing that Assaggio’s, my favorite restaurant here in Seattle, where I was planning to have dinner tonight, is closed on Sundays.
 
I discovered Assaggio Ristoranti by accident probably 15 years ago when I came to Seattle on business. Quite randomly, I picked a hotel that happened to be right next door to the restaurant. That’s the reason I chose the hotel where I’m staying on this trip.
 
 
All is not lost, however, because Tulio’s (above photo) is another superb Italian restaurant here, and It is open today. It means a short cab ride, but I will certainly plan to have dinner there tonight. And, since I’m not leaving Seattle until 4:40 p.m. tomorrow when the Empire Builder departs, that leaves plenty of time for lunch at Assaggio’s.
 
This past June, during my two weeks in Italy, I chose restaurants pretty much by looking over the posted menu at the front door and peering in to see what the interior looked like. A number of the meals were rather disappointing. Finally, in Siena, and quite by accident, I stumbled on what proved to be a better way to pick a really good restaurant.
 
I had struck up a friendly rapport with Aldo, one of the waiters in the restaurant at the hotel where I was staying, and at breakfast one morning, I asked him where he would take his wife out to eat for her birthday. Aldo gave me the name of a small restaurant nearby and I had several meals there while I was in Siena. In fact, I had an almost instant rapport with the owner of the place because he had vacationed in Hawaii several years earlier.
 
On my second visit there, I mentioned that my favorite pasta dish, carbonara, was not on his menu. “You want carbonara?” he said. “Why not!” And he disappeared into the kitchen to prepare a wonderful carbonara just for me. And he wished me aloha when I left.
 
Grazie, Aldo!