Pontevecchio Italian Bistro

One: The number of dark Italian men serving up martinis with a melodically accented "Prego!" last week during happy hour (3–6:30 p.m. and 9–11 p.m. Mon.–Fri.). $7: What it cost to pair a tasty nibble with either a glass of red or white wine or one of three cocktails. As the aforementioned dark Italian waiter said, "It's like paying for a drink and getting the food free." (Of course, it sounded much, much better when he said it). Five: Silver dollar–sized pieces of delicious, fresh mozzarella, covered in fragrant basil and swimming in olive oil for bread dipping—not nearly enough once our tongues were tantalized. Forty-two: Salty, sometimes mushy olives—way too many when faced with the challenge of eating them all. Finally, we got it just right by ordering crunchy bruschetta, too. Three: Drinks we tried. The Bolero, with vodka, fresh OJ, and triple sec, has the right mix of alcohol and juice; don't be fooled by the pinkish Negroni (gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth)—it's bitter and astringent and will suck your tongue dry; finally, the decadent Cioccolato martini, finished with a dusting of cocoa powder, is best left for dessert. Two-and-a-half: Hours we spent in the dusky restaurant. Just like in Europe, nothing here is rushed. My friend said: "I feel like I'm in Italy. The (aforementioned dark, Italian) waiter is straight from—what's that bridge in Florence?" Hmm. "Pontevecchio," I replied. 710 N. 34th St., 206-633-3989. FREMONT

 
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