Il Fornaio

When that inevitable craziness that comes with wandering the mall for hours strikes this holiday season, there is no better cure than a soothing glass of wine or a cold beer. This is why Il Fornaio in Pacific Place is the ideal restaurant for its location . . . or is it? Every day from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., this classy Italian restaurant hosts a happy hour with merlot or chardonnay only $3 a glass and draft beers just $2, plus a complimentary buffet with a drink purchase. Unfortunately, there isn't a lot of room in the bar, and happy-hour specials apply only to those able to snag a bar stool, so our first visit mostly involved standing around stupidly waiting for a seat, only to be glared at by very unhelpful waiters before leaving with an empty stomach and still sober. The second visit was more successful and the wait staff much friendlier (apparently the mood of the waiters can vary as much as the appetizers); the mini pizzas, pasta salad, and tiny chicken wings weren't spectacular, but they were fairly good and free! Other cheap people are excited about this also, which leads to competition over the food: When the calamari comes out, you'd better be ready or some greedy little hipster in dark glasses may grab himself the entire plate. Not that we're still bitter or anything. 600 Pine St., 206-264-0994. DOWNTOWN

 
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