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Originally published Friday, May 15, 2009 at 12:00 AM

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Dining Deals

Talarico's Pizzeria: Land of the big and chewy

Comfort food — nothing flashy here — sums up the gigantic meals at Talarico's Pizzeria & Lounge in West Seattle. Pizzas, with a bit of chew, are the main draw. The Pasta alla Vodka was divine.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Talarico's Pizzeria & Lounge

Italian

4718 California Ave. S.W., Seattle

206-937-3463

www.talaricoswest.com

Hours: 4 p.m.-2 a.m. daily.

Etc: Free street parking; Visa and MasterCard accepted; no obstacles to access; full bar.

Prices: $-$$

Few people have eaten more spaghetti and meatballs than my son, so I turned to this most qualified of diners for his verdict on the princely mound of noodles our server had set before him at Talarico's Pizzeria & Lounge.

"It's nice and chewy, and it has a humble taste," he said.

Comfort food — nothing flashy here — sums up the essence of the gigantic meal we consumed with gusto in a wonderfully cavernous booth, a world away from the bar that is the focal point of this West Seattle restaurant/night spot. Pizzas, whole or by the slice, are a main draw.

The menu: It starts with salads — wedge to Caesar ($4.95-$9.95) — and a half-dozen appetizers (spicy meat balls, polenta cakes) priced in the $9 range. Pizza available by the 14-inch slice ($3.95 for basic cheese, $5.45 for specialties) or by the pie ($29.95-$36.95) seemed to fly out of the kitchen the night we were there. Pasta "platters," including chicken Parmesan ($12.95), are big enough to split. Dessert selections are a tribute to gluttony. The Reese's Pieces cookie, served warm in a skillet with ice cream ($7), was inhaled by three of us in about two minutes.

The restaurant recently changed its liquor license to allow minors from 4 to 9 p.m., and will be rolling out a new menu with kids' offerings on Monday.

What to write home about: Chef Eric Bell's Pasta alla Vodka ($12.95) — a savory, salty harmony of spicy tomato, cream and cured ham — was divine and memorable. It was on special the night we went but will be on the new menu Monday. I prefer my pizza crust thin and crunchy, but if you like yours with a bit of chew, you should find Talarico's satisfying.

The setting: Take your pick: Eat at the bar in the center of the room, with TVs turned to sports, or disappear into one of the high-walled booths at the perimeter for your own private party. Friendly, competent service, chocolate- colored walls and darkly stained booths make for cozy dining.

Summing up: The cost of two pasta platters, a slice of pizza, a root beer and dessert ran an even $50, including tax and tip. And we had enough left over for another meal.

Susan Kelleher: 206-464-2508

or skelleher@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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