il Trattoria di Merende (closed)

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813 Pacific Avenue
(253) 722-1993

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Credit Cards Accepted, Full Bar, Live Music, Outdoor Dining
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The Review

Reviewed by: Jake and Jason de Paul

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(Merende closed on Sunday, Jan. 31.)

il Trattoria di Merende is a wonderful restaurant, but before you make reservations for tomorrow night you need to know one thing. Jeff Bishop and Lombardi family’s brand new place offers Italian rustic cuisine, not Italian-American food. You won’t be able to order overloaded platters of red sauced spaghetti and meatballs. Don’t ask for lasagna, pizza or stuffed shells. There’s no grated cheese shaker on the table, and you probably won’t go home with tomorrow’s lunch. Get over it.

The menu is, of course, Italian — flat breads, pasta and carne with special emphasis on small plates to be shared. They offer locally produced organic ingredients as much as possible inside a sleek decor with straw and terracotta colors, brick down the north side, blue backlit bar and modern lighting.

Merende’s small bite plates are designed to drive your taste buds wild. Warm mushroom risotto ($6) is so creamy it’s like a sauce. Other small bites include top-notch sautéed calamari calabrase, white bean salad and garlic seared white prawns.

Merende does serve tagliatelle with ragu alla bolognese ($16) but the dish is deep, complex, and delicious. We “oohed” and even “aahed” over the fig jam, Rogue Valley Gorgonzola and proscuitto served on a crackery flat bread ($12) — sweet, yes, but salty, too.

The wine list isn’t encyclopedic — what a relief! — but it contains such true gems from the 15 whites, 19 reds and 11 limited wines. We chose the Barolo “Castiglione” 2004. It sang an aria so moving it stopped our conversation mid sentence.


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