Even if you’re a local, you can’t avoid Pike Place Market - the hub for Seattle tourism, overpriced produce, and crowds of zombie people waiting in line to get a watery coffee at the original Starbucks. Maybe you have some out-of-town visitors who read in their seatback magazine on the flight over that Pike Place is the toast of the city’s cultural existence. Maybe you’re trying to impress a second date with a one-two punch of the aquarium followed by a Moscow mule at Rachel’s Ginger Beer. Or maybe you’ve hit rock bottom and shelled out $14 to ride the waterfront ferris wheel by yourself.
But there is one reason that we’d tell you to intentionally go to Pike Place. And that reason is The Pink Door.
The Pink Door has been around for a while, as Seattle’s burlesque-ish white-tablecloth Italian restaurant kingpin. But they recently underwent some renovations that made the space more hip and vibey - like the addition of a full bar decked out with stained glass, an elevated stage for string quartets to play their fiddles, and a ridiculously nice patio situation. We loved the old Pink Door, but the new version is even better.
Beyond the unmarked, pink door (get it?) you’ll find a classy circus-restaurant mashup, with low lighting, murals of a court jester and a man in drag, thick red curtains, and nightly acrobatic talent swinging on trapeze rigs above you and your linguine with clams. It’s a place for you to leave your terrible attitude behind and escape real life for a night.
And it’s also a place for you to eat excellent Italian food. Share plates like crudo and prosciutto/mozzarella, pastas we want to put in our mouths all day, a damn good caesar salad, and fettunta, which is grilled garlic bread fit for adults who spend money on tableside bread, because they feel like it and it because it tastes like char marks and olive oil. And then there’s the lasagne, which makes you want to grab your server’s collar, pull them dangerously close, and ask “what sorcery is this?!” because of how f*cking delicious it is.
There is no wrong way to do The Pink Door, but generally assume it should be your special occasion go-to. In the winter, eat that lasagna with a negroni and a date inside. In the summer, secure some real estate on the covered deck with a view of the water and a mannequin dressed like it belongs in a disco. Don’t let the tourist hellzone location that is Pike Place deter you - The Pink Door isn’t for them. It’s for you.
This is the caesar salad you want to eat. The dressing is creamy but not heavy, there are huge shards of parm, and the fennel-dusted croutons are an excellent crunch. At least one order needs to hit the table.
Fettunta is garlic bread for fancy people: charred grilled bread rubbed with garlic and drizzled with “the finest of olive oils.” This is a must-order, but you have to strategically eat it slowly so you can swipe it in the various sauces you’ll encounter during the meal.
Fresh ahi with lemon, fried capers, and smoked castelvetrano olives. A light summery appetizer that’s perfect for patio-eating with a glass of cold champagne.
If you need to order a vegetable, this one’s great - it’s drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with pine nuts and crumbled egg.
If you love bolognese so much that you have ground beef running through your veins, that sounds dangerous. You’ll probably want The Pink Door’s bolognese. Housemade pappardelle with a creamy tomato-based meat sauce and a pile of parmesan on top. It’s okay if you don’t want to share this.
The spaghetti is cooked to the perfect level of al dente, but the red sauce and meatballs are not as good as they could be. There are way better things to eat here that give this place our crazy-high rating, and this isn’t one of them. Skip.
This is the best lasagna in Seattle, and our favorite thing to order at The Pink Door. Fresh spinach pasta layered with bechamel and pesto, topped with marinara sauce, and baked. Even if you order it for the table and everyone only gets one bite, you can not miss this.
Baby clams in the shell, pancetta, garlic, chilis, and white wine. Some people really search for incredible linguine with clams - we found it, and you can stop looking now. When you get to the silky broth at the bottom of the bowl, it would be a good time to break out your hoarded fettunta to soak it up.