Yes, the name is weird. And yes, there IS a huge papier mache asteroid on the roof. But walk inside this tiny storefront restaurant and you'll soon forget about all that.
Asteroid Cafe is my favorite kind of restaurant: tiny, one-of-a-kind, and owner-operated. In a dining room no bigger than your own, owner Marlin Hathaway delivers fabulous cocktails, excellent (and fairly-priced) wines and superb, hand-crafted Italian food to an always-packed house of Wallingford residents and in-the-know pilgrims from across Seattle.
A few things you should know before you go. Due to the small dining room, only complete parties will be seated; if you're meeting friends not known for their punctuality, be prepared to stand on the sidewalk until they arrive. And once you do sit down, be prepared for your conversation to include diners at the table next to you; the tight spacing and informal atmosphere can lend a dinner-party air to the entire restaurant.
But if excellent food, great wine and warm-but-professional service are your goals, Asteroid Cafe delivers like few other neighborhood restaurants. In addition to a thoughtful printed menu of starters, pastas and main courses, the chalkboard typically features a handful of incredible seasonal specials. The wine list is packed with a remarkable breadth of selections, from sturdy table wines (starting in the low $20s), to elegant and complex selections from Italy and the western U.S. A short but well-executed dessert list and a constantly changing artisanal cheese selection help bring things to a close.
I'm currently on a hunt for the best neighborhood restaurants in Seattle. If you've got one that you think gives Asteroid a run for its money, I'd like to hear about it.