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Volterra - Seattle, WA - Reviews page 1 - Judysbook


5411 Ballard Ave Nw, Seattle, WA 98107 (at 22nd Avenue NW)
Seattle, WA 98107
(206) 789-5100
Incorrect info? Correct your listing


Volterra - Seattle, WA
Volterra - Seattle, WA
Volterra - Seattle, WA
Volterra - Seattle, WA
Volterra - Seattle, WA
Volterra - Seattle, WA
Volterra - Seattle, WA
Volterra - Seattle, WA
Volterra - Seattle, WA
Volterra - Seattle, WA
Volterra - Seattle, WA
Volterra - Seattle, WA
Volterra - Seattle, WA
Volterra - Seattle, WA



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I recently attended a big birthday bash for a close friend of mine at Volterra and I was very impressed with the restaurant, food, and service. I started with the Oil soup which ...


I found this place in the top ten places for brunch in Seattle and was excited to take my friends. The location was great and the place has a wonderful environment. The menu was...

Dreadful Customer Service!! 11/3/2007

Recently, I made a reservation at Volterra for 6:00 p.m. on a Friday night. My date was a bit late to pick me up due to traffic, so I called the restaurant to advise that we were at 4th & Blanchard which was still at least 10 minutes away, and asked whether we should bother driving out. The hostess said that that was no problem, encouraged us to come out, and said that she would hold our table. She advised that the only caveat is that we would have to vacate the table by 8:00 p.m. for the next reservation. I promised we would and we headed over there. Literally, the minute we pulled in front of the restaurant, my cell phone rang and it was the hostess calling to tell me that she gave our table away because they “couldn’t hold it any longer”. To say I was livid would be an understatement. I asked to speak to the manager on duty, which happened to be David. I reiterated my entire conversation with the hostess to David. David was completely unapologetic and parroted that they held our table as long as they could and had to give it away. He tried to justify himself by saying that “any restaurant in town would have done the same thing”. David claims it’s the company policy. Yikes! I was aghast at David’s nonchalant attitude. No other restaurant that I know of would promise customers to hold a reservation then give the table away before you arrive and call you after the fact. Not only was this fiasco completely embarrassing to me in front of my date, my blood was boiling after my dead-end conversation with David. With so many fabulous restaurants in Seattle who actually know something about customer service, I would never spend a dime at Volterra. Ever. Better choices to Volterra - hands down - are Bizzarro Italian Café (1307 N 46th St) and Asteroid Café (3601 Fremont Ave, Seattle), both of which are about 7 minutes from Volterra by car. Bizzarro and Asteroid are long-standing restaurants that are totally reliable for fresh and delicious meals, and their customer service skills are outstanding. more

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Wild Boar... not boaring! Volterra 9/27/2006

Last night was a fab evening out. The 26th of Sept. is my husband and my anniversary. 14th to be exact! We decided to give Volterra a shot and we were not let down. We arrived promptly at 7:25 for our 7:30 reservation and were greeted warmly by the hostess. After being seated at a cozy corner table our waiter appeared. A lovely couple at the table next to us offered their suggestions from the menu. One being the polenta app. and the other the wild boar. From the oil soup, which my husband raved about, to the pear tart we shared for desert, everything was perfect. Prompt service, kind, helpful staff, warm ambiance. We will go again, and suggest this restaurant to friends. more

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I was unimpressed. 9/2/2006

After meandering around Ballard this afternoon, my husband and I stopped into Volterra for lunch. We were seated out on the patio which was lovely on a nice summer Seattle day. I am a photographer and pay a lot of attention to light... it was beautiful out there. The food was decent. I had the Ceasar Salad (asked for chicken and they said they only have whole chickens, yet my husband's dish had minced chicken...), and he had the Chicken Bowtie Pasta. My salad was unremarkable, pretty much like any other salad I've had elsewhere. The bowtie pasta wasn't great either, although I must say that the asparagus was cooked perfectly. I may come back at some point to give dinner a shot, but definitely not lunch. Our waiter was extremely busy and therefore unattentive. more

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Wow 8/6/2006

I'm amazed by two things: 1. How good wild boar is 2. How accurate the other JB reviews were in describing the experience, especially Suzanne's. If you're still deciding whether or not to go to Volterra, read the other reviews. This review is intended to help you get the most out of your experience. A few tips: - the parking lot next door to Volterra isn't theirs, but the neighbor that owns allows Volterra customers to park there after 8pm. - get the wild boar with gorgonzola sauce. If you don't get it, make sure someone in your party orders it. It is spectacular when prepared medium rare. - don't be suprised by the wine steward. He isn't dressed like the staff (he was wearing a hawaiian shirt when we visited), and will just walk up to the table and ask if you'd like help with the wines. - order the mushroom tart appetizer. Very good, distintive dish - I've not tried anything like it elsewhere. Although pricey, Volterra is far from a high end restaurant ($20 entrees). Don't expect world class service - just expect great food and friendly if imperfect service. more

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One of few decent Italian restaurants in Seattle... 8/2/2006

My girlfriend booked a dinner at Volterra for the 4 of us. I was already feeling the pain of another overpriced bad italian most in Seattle. Instead I found it pretty decent. The apetizers were ok. The pasta was overall good, although not consistent. Each of us ordered something different and I had a chance to try them all. One of the dishes was well done, but the other 3 were good, although not exceptional. If you want to go Italian, this is definitely a good spot. more

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Great 7/22/2006

Perfect food. Only complaint I could have is it was so noisy that it was hard to talk to my friends. Wine steward was great! PS. Try the grapefruit martini if you are so inclined. more

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Hearty, Delicious 5/26/2006

I've been here three times. Not tons and tons, but enough to appreciate the consistently good fare and the fact that Volterra offers both modern twists (sweet salt on the gelato!) and classic dishes (the peasant-style lamb shank). I've always had good service and wine recommendations, too. All I need to bring me back yet again. more

Volterra is excellent 5/1/2006

One of the best meals I've had in Seattle in a while was at Volterra last week. This quaint, romantic little place was nearly perfect from beginning to end. The service was excellent, they were both excited and knowledgeable about the food without being pushy. The flavors in every dish we had were just lovely. The portions were generous without being overboard. Volterra will have a dish for anyone, either adventurous (try the Wild Boar with gorgonzola) or conservative (any of the pasta dishes will serve you well). We had many of the evenings specials and the duck ravioli was to die for. more

Volterra hits a Home Run 4/19/2006

After reading all of the rave reviews locally and nationally, I was very excited to dine at Volterra. It was my birthday last weekend and my husband made reservations several weeks ago to get a few of my closest friends together. I'm pleased to report that our dining experience exceeded our expectations. The restaurant is beautiful with rich wine colored walls, dark wood and a gorgeous stainless steel bartop. We were seated in the dining room which displays black and white pictures from Volterra and the owners wedding. Our server, Anthony, provided impeccable service and shared the story of the restaurant with us. The wine steward, David, helped us pick a reasonably priced Brunello from the wine list. He was very knowledgable and professional. We started with the Bruschetta, Wild Mushroom Tart, and Mussels with Sausage. The bruschetta was like none I've had. Instead of tomatos and basil, it was topped with wild mushrooms and truffle puree and grilled artichokes. The mussels with sausage were fresh and the spicy sausage and tomato broth were delicious. We also tried the Wild Mushroom tart topped with Truffle Cream. Can you tell we are mushroom fans? The tart was my favorite of the appetizers and simply sinful. For salads, we tried the sauteed spinich with pine nuts and currants which was a nice combination of savory and sweet. We also had the prawn salad which was topped with jumbo prawns and had been seasoned with Volterra's Fennel Salt. I bought the Fennel Salt at Metropolitan Market a few weeks ago and have been experimenting in the kitchen with it. Great stuff. Entrees, we had a variety of dishes. Everyone devoured their meals. I think the favorites at the table were the Wild Boar Tenderloin, Kobe Beef Sirloin, Tagliolini with Wild Mushrooms and the Veal Chop. We were too full for dessert but we did have a lovely bottle of Dinderello to top off a wonderful meal. I will definitely recommend Volterra to all my friends. more

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The Food is a Hit, Service a Miss 4/12/2006

Volterra is a hot spot in Ballard and I have been looking forward to dining there for about a year. Recently my husband and I joined one of my clients for dinner there. ANTICIPATION: The reservation was made about two weeks ago. I had a good long time to look forward to what promised to be a dining experience marked by a "fine-tuned quality." Further, there was another connection I felt with Volterra--fennel salt. The chef is big on a fennel salt, similar and in fact packaged by the same producer that makes a truffeld salt I love. TREPIDATION I invited my client to my home for a bit of a prefunction with the idea that we could walk to Volterra for dinner. We arrived right on time and were greeted in the over-crowded foyer. The hostess had our table waiting and we were escorted to our table promptly...good thing as it was raining outside and there was no place to stand inside. INSPECTION Although there is seating in the bar we were directed to the main dining room, a medium-sized room with dark brick-red walls, white tile floor and tables both against a banquet and free-standing. Guests and staff must be adroit to navigate the room. Our table was against a banquet and having allowed my client to sit facing the room my ability to see Volterra in action was confined to the table. Soon our server, in a smart-casual black-on-black uniform, approached our table and asked if she could get us "anything from the bar." This is one of those moments that separate the "boys form the men" so to speak. A confident server might have made a suggestion, enticing me to order a cocktail or glass of wine I had not considered: "Can I get you a Campari and Soda or a glass of Pinot Grigio?" Uninspired we agreed to order wine once we had decided on entrées. She indicated she would send "Don" over to our table. Next it was time to verbalize the specials. This can not be fun for the servers and I know that because it was not fun for me and my dinner companions. In addition to the diverse and interesting menu, the list of specials was long...and the descriptions of the specials were long...and complicated and in spite of my trained attention span for this sort of thing I got lost pretty fast. I was not alone. All of us at the table agreed..too much! Don is the wine captain. He was not dressed in staff uniform (or finer...and this is about inspiring confidence in his guidance, not judging his personal syle. When I turn my wine selction over to another I want to feel like I am in the hands of one who knows as well or better than I do...) so when he approached the table I was not sure who he was and felt "diner whiplash." Initially, I literally thought he might be a guest. The room is pretty noisy and I think he introduced himself, but I cannot be sure. With entrées decided it was clear we wanted red wine. My client-and-host settled on a domestic Cab (not on the wine list). Note: the reservation was made under my client's name and he checked us in with the hostess. At least four of the service gaffs to follow could have been avoided if the hostess told our server which person at the table was the Host and what to do about that. Soon Don returned with two bottles of white wine and poured a glass each for me and my host, verbalizing the producer's name as he poured from over my shoulder. Not long after that appetizers arrived at the table. SATISFACTION My ahi carpaccio (served with a keepsake bottle of olive oil) and our host's salad arrived, but my husband's lentil salad dragged 15 seconds behind (I think one runner brought the first two plates and was followed by another runner with the third). Despite the staggered starts, all the appetizers were delicious. Meanwhile Don returned with and opened our bottle of red. He offered the taste to the host and then poured wine in my glass. Then, he offered wine to my husband who declined, but did not offer any to our fourth. As we finished our appetizers clear plates were cleared without much notice that the host had not finished his salad. Admittedly this is a tricky service point, but it is an important one. Had I caught it in time I would have held onto my plate until my client-host was finished so that he was not left eating alone. Next up were entrées. A runner (or back waiter) arrived with three plates but had no idea who got what. We unscrambled him and I look for my husband's wild boar. It was, again, not among these first plates. Because the dining room was busier at this point the lag time between the first and second plate drop was longer than the first course lag and more awkward. Thirty seconds might not seem like a long time, but it is when you are watching your food get cold as you wait to start eating as a group. Entrees were delicious and diverse. I enjoyed the venison ragu. Husband loved the wild boar. Client cleaned the plate of a steak entrée (I forget the details but it was not the special Kobe beef) and his partner enjoyed the roasted or grilled chicken. By this time our red wine glasses needed to be refilled and with no one coming to our service I took the bottle and poured. Mid-way through meal, perhaps prompted by the fact that I was refilling our glasses, the conversation turned to restaurant service and why Seattle struggles with it...this is not a good sign (to me this means the magic spell of dining has been broken by service that has drawn attention to itself by being either neglectful or heavy-handed). As our plates were cleared, again leaving the host eating by himself (surprised again by this I resolved to catch it if we ordered desserts), my clients partner made this observation: "Often I go out to dinner and have a dissatisfying experience, but I cannot quite put my finger on what happened." I tried to outline why this happens to diners over the next several minutes, offering a sad but compelling checklist of events that contribute to that vague dissatisfaction. We sipped our wine (Don eventually returned to pour more wine, but by then the bottle was empty) until our glasses were empty (oddly the white wine glasses were never taken from the table, even though we had clearly moved on). We each ordered dessert. Why I was surprised I have no idea, but yet again, my husbands plate dragged out of the kitchen. ARGH! I felt bad for him. The desserts were delicious, although my panna cotta melted into a puddle and lost its shape pretty fast (was the room too warm...did it fail to set up properly). As I scanned the table, noticing that three of us had either finished or pushed our dessert plates away, I was ready. Two bus-boy and a server tried to take my plate and each discovered it to be heavier than they expected as I discretely weighted it down with my fingers. Eventually I just said, "I will wait to have my plate cleared until after my host has finished his dessert." That was all it took. All four plates were cleared together. EVALUATION The bill was brought to the table (by now I suspect our server knew we had not had a 4-star experience and was feeling a little sheepish) and placed about as far from the host as possible, forcing him to reach across candles and glasses and whatever was left to collect and review it. I did not pay the bill so I cannot be sure if in the final evaluation it was "worth it." That said, the conversation about service struggles in Seattle continued as we walked home so I have to assume my host was not knocked out. In brief: I measured my expierence against the trusted Philosophy of Three which posits the following: One service error (failing to offer all the guests wine or, in this case, and check back with the table to refill glasses) is noticeable. Two service gaffs (dragging my husband's appetizer, entree or, in this case, and dessert behind the rest of the plates) are forgiveable. Three, (clearing plates before the host is finished eating) you lost me and it's going to take a intervention of some sort to get me back. The room is cool, the menu is diverse, the prices are reasonable, the wine list is thoughtful, the food is well-prepared (and if you love fennel salt, are you in luck!)... But there are service issues.... This is not a huge deal and certainly no reason for anyone to go on the defensive. I took the time to write and post this review to help other diners manage their expectations of their experience while Volterra works out the kinks. more

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Not That Impressed 3/31/2006

I hate to buck the trend here but I don't think Volterra was all that great. The service was excellent, the decor is nice but my food was mediocre. The salad had way too much cheese and was too salty. My pasta was uninspired to say the least. Having said that, I would actually go again due to the excellent service and everyone else seems to like it so maybe I went on a bad day or picked the wrong dish. Who knows? more

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TASTY RIP-OFF 3/17/2006


Memorable every time 3/17/2006

Probably my favorite restaurant in Seattle. I've been dining at Volterra at least 2 times a month since they opened and I never get tired of going there. The menu changes frequently so there are always new dishes to try. I don't know what I would do if they ever took the Wild Boar Tenderloin w/ a gorgonzola sauce from heaven off the menu. Their Ceasar salad is my favorite in Seattle. I am also in love with the Lamb Shank served over creamy polenta and the Tagiolini with wild mushrooms, truffle butter and fresh shaved black truffles on top! YUM! The dining room is beautiful and intimate. I've had excellent service each time I've visited. The servers are attentive but not intrusive and well educated. Excellent, quite lengthy wine list with numerous bottles in all price ranges. I highly recommend Volterra. more

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Divine 3/13/2006

I finally had the chance to try the restaurant in Ballard that everyone is talking about, Volterra. I'm in love! Think sexy but classic. My dinning companion mentioned that the restaurant felt like a home dining room, which from understanding is exactly what the goal of the establishment is, to transport you to Tuscany. Volterra is not red-checkered table cloth Italian rather authentic Tuscan. Almost immediately when we were seated, a bottle of Trampetti Olive Oil was placed on our table. This olive oil is spectacular. Used in other restaurants such as Crow and Primo Grill (Tacoma) and sold at Metropolitan Market for upwards of $25 a bottle, this is not Food Services of America jug olive oil. Volterra was already on the 5 star track at this point, but then they continued to impress me with their cocktails. I first tried the Mandarin Basil Drop- perfection. A basil leaf floated on the top with slight hints of basil and Mandarin vodka. However, my other drink, Rosemary Drop with house made limoncello vodka blew my socks off- the best cocktail I've ever had. Regardless, don't go to Volterra for just their cocktails. The food was divine. Our waiter described many of the foods for us not only explaining taste, but also origin. For example the wild boar prosciutto from Salumi is not sold at his store rather only made for Volterra and few other select restaurants in the city. Believe me, I wish that he did because I have never taste such a rich and complex prosciutto. Next, I sampled their homemade buffalo ricotta ravioli. Now here is my only complaint, the portion was a little small and it could of been a bit more warm. Tender pasta with a side of kale! My friend ordered their venison pasta which was a ragu of venison and pasta, which was also perfectly done and a much larger portion than mine. Last, but definitely not least was the chestnut panna cotta with honey and strawberries. All I can say is orgasmic and so rich that I could not finish my dessert and normally I do at nicer restaurants. I am looking forward to my next visit to Volterra. I want to try the Wild Boar Tenderloin. If you want good Italian, I urge you to try Volterra. more

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Volterrific 3/3/2006

It doesn't look like too many people disagree here on the quality of the food offered at Volterra. I too thought it was very well done, and feel that if you are going to go, you should plan on ordering a fair amount of food. Everything from the antipasti to the dessert was very well done. There seem to be some complaints here about the service, but I thought it was just fine. Our food came quickly and our waiter was helpful without being a pest. Overall, I think it's worth a visit if you are considering Italian food. more

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Date Night destination 3/1/2006

Volterra is worth hiring a babysitter and putting on your good perfume. But don't wear anything tight, because if you have the time and the money you should go all out with starter, main, dessert (and salad! and bread! and wine!). The most serious foodies are pleasantly surprised by the lamb shank and the wild boar mains. I have also enjoyed the bishop's hat pasta in cream sauce, as well as the beet salad. The plain old steaks are good, but not special enough to justify choosing them over the more interesting dishes. When I have been there, it has been busy and full without seeming like a mob scene. You will find Volterra in the Ballard space that Burk's cajun restaurant used to fill. more

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Great Restaurant, Good Wine, Nice Atmosphere 1/18/2006

I'd have to say Volterra has been a good addition to Ballard. Although not the absolute best place I've been to, it is in the top 10. Their food is great. They have a good selection of wine and drinks and the atmosphere is nice and enjoyable. It's even great to just go for drinks at the bar. Try it out if you haven't been there. Good stuff for a nice night out. more

Disappointing experience 1/1/2006

To celebrate my birthday, my wife and close friends suggested that we celebrate at Volterra. We had been there before and the food was superb. We were there on a Monday and found the service very rushed. Our waitress must be attending to at least 5-7 other tables and we had to keep looking for her. Our drinks were forgotten, and the kicker was when they bought out my birthday cake and mentioned that they had run out of candles so we would have to make do with just the cake. Of course, we all laughed at the situation but how can such a restaurant not go the extra mile for service. Really, is there no convenience store open at 8.30pm in the evening in Ballard? And when the reservations as well as the birthday notification was made a week in advance, did the kitchen realize oops that we are out of candles so tough luck u poor chap..?? Given that our previous dining experience had been great, we were embarassed at the overall attitude of the waitstaff/kitchen as our friends were picking up the tab for the evening. Sadly, this is no longer amongst our favorite restaurants in Seattle more

Still loving Volterra! 12/27/2005

I've now been to Volterra for brunch and dinner, and both times the food and service were excellent. Last night I ordered the shrimp and porcini risotto; it was so refreshing to order a dish with shrimp that actually contained more than 3 shrimp, but beyond that the risotto was delicious. I also sampled the lobster ravioli and sauteed jumbo prawns--both excellent. A bottle of Chianti wasn't too expensive and complemented the meal; it also went well with the starter plate of cured meats! Brunch at Volterra is equally good, with even larger portions. The atmosphere is relaxed and friendly; overall, a great place to take a date or your family. Addendum, May 2006: we just went again recently, at 6:30 on a Friday night, with no reservation, and they seated us immediately at a GREAT table. Food was delicious, the sommelier recommended wonderful wines to go with our entrees, and our server Steven couldn't have been nicer. I just love this place. more

Addicting 11/21/2005

Seattle has lacked an authentic and consistently good italian restaurant over the years. Finally, there's Volterra. Almost as authentic as you're going to find in Italy and the owner/chef, Don Curtiss, buys as much of his produce from local farmers. I know he buys his organic eggs from one of the local farmers who has a stand at the Ballard Sunday Market. They make most of their pasta from scratch too (using the abovementioned organic eggs). I've got to give Volterra kudos for striving to use fresh and organic (whenever possible) ingredients that they can get their hands on. My husband and i eat there almost twice a month because there's a wonderfully comforting quality about their food.. Try the roasted chicken -- it's unbelievable. They've also got a great sunday brunch that most people haven't discovered yet. more
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Menu for Volterra

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Top Italian restaurant on Historic Ballard Avenue

Owner Message

  • Inspired by the warm, traditional Tuscan hilltop town by the same name, Volterra features the bold-flavored, Tuscan-inspired menu of award-winning Chef Don Curtiss. Chef Curtiss has a long history and following in the Northwest. He received acclaim as...


  • The Scene
    Named after the Tuscan hill town where the owners were married in 2004, this upscale trattoria re-creates the town's atmosphere through framed photos, Italianate wall sconces...

  • 9/22/2006 Provided by Citysearch

Additional information

  • Hours:

    Mon-Thu 5pm-12am Fri 5pm-1am Sat 9am-2pm, 5pm-1am Sun 9am-2pm, 5pm-9pm
  • Payments:

    Visa, American Express, Discover, Master Card
  • Neighborhoods:

    Ballard, Adams

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