Translate “grazie” to English and you get:

preposition:.thanks to

interjection. thanks, thank you!

noun. gratitude, thankfulness, appreciation

noun. gracefulness, neatness, grace, prettiness, favor, pardon, mercy, reprieve

Enter the door of Grazie Ristorante Southcenter and you experience a lovely reprieve. Ideal for a small dinner party, one on one or small group business strategy lunch, father-daughter date or first, second or more date. The intimate, warm and calm setting provides a great backdrop for good conversation and authentic Italian cuisine. It proved to be the perfect place for our monthly Cascade e-Commerce Solutions staff lunch.

The only problem with Grazie is you wouldn’t know it’s there. It is tucked quietly in the corner between Men’s Wearhouse and Car Toys in an unremarkable strip mall on the west side of Southcenter Parkway.

The simple exterior belies the attractive interior. Attention to detail appears throughout the restaurant. Soft light fixtures that spread a warm glow over wood paneling and trim, wrought iron screens, and Italian art work create an ambience that is both elegant and comfortable.

Then there’s the staff… Since 1991 the owners have traveled every other year with staff to Italy so that each staff member is well versed in Italian culture and food preparation and service. You can view photos of some of their trips to suppliers’ wineries, olive groves, pasta factories and restaurants online at http://www.grazierestaurant.com/italy-gallery.htm.

As we ate we could see the chefs visibly busy behind the counter preparing meals for guests, while the host/hostess and wait staff attentively served guests. There was no need to flag down staff here as they remain focused on anticipating each guest’s next request regardless of whether the guest was in a party of several or a solo diner.

When it came to the cuisine, the Calamari Fritti (fried squid) appetizer was a great start that would be a nice beginning to a lunch or dinner. Deep fried on the outside, yet tender on the inside, it was perfect with its accompanying Chive and Garlic Aioli sauce. The Formaggi Arrabiata (fresh mozzarella and goat cheese served hot with prosciutto, chili oil, basil and crostini) was also a lovely appetizer but needed to be eaten promptly so that the mozzarella remained soft.

For the main course we ordered Fettuccine Alfredo, Lasagna, Cannelloni, Capellini Gamberetti, and Linguine di Mare (noodles with an array of seafood). Everyone was pleased with their decisions. Jordan went as far to say, “It was one of the best linguine I’ve ever had!”, then jokingly added, “and I go to Olive Garden all the time!” If you want to try something new, the Lasagna is quite different. It’s green! Thankfully there is good reason for this; their lasagna is coated in pesto sauce. Talk about scrumptious!

For dessert we ordered Tiramisu, Cannoli, Turtle Cheesecake, Lemon Tart, and Triple Chocolate Cake. These tasty treats were so good that for a few moments we were able to forget how full we really were. That’s no easy feat either. Every course of this meal had generous serving sizes. Even after feasting and thoroughly testing the strength of our belts we still had plenty of food to take home with us.

Enjoying leftovers at home was tasty but certainly no substitute for the experience and freshly cooked meal at Grazie. We enjoyed our meal so much that we recommend you reconsider your next trip to the Olive Garden. Instead, take a tip from the staff of Cascade e-Commerce Solutions and visit Grazie Ristorante.

The History of Grazie Ristorante:

The first Grazie Ristorante was built in Tacoma in the early 1900’s. Owner Kevin Downey brought Grazie Ristorante to the eastside in 1987 when he opened the Southcenter Grazie Ristorante location. Today Grazie Ristorante provides the Puget Sound with Italian dining from its Southcenter location and another location in Bothell, WA.

For more information about Grazie Ristorante go to:http://grazierestaurant.com/about.htm