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A happy-hour secret: Order the Cuoco sandwich even though it's not on menu
Cuoco, one of the Tom Douglas restaurants in the Lake Union area, has an al fresco dining area and some good bar food.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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The best thing on the happy-hour menu at Cuoco isn't listed on the menu anymore. I know, I've checked week in and week out.
Then on a whim one afternoon, I requested it anyway — the Cuoco sandwich ($8), done like a hybrid Cuban sandwich, the bread toasted not pressed, stuffed with peppery salami, roasted pork loin, provolone, with some pickled peppers and onions. It's sinfully good, the tangy aioli dripping after every crunchy bite.
Recently, the barman smiled at my request for the Cuoco sandwich and said, "Good choice." The kitchen, he said, still makes it during happy hour, but only upon request.
The sandwich varies — served on ciabatta one week, baguette on another week — but the variations are all excellent.
I discovered the happy hour at Cuoco the way I think most South Lake Union bar hoppers do. I hit Brave Horse Tavern only to find a packed house and strolled a few steps down to its less popular sibling, Cuoco. Both are Tom Douglas joints.
This Northern Italian restaurant comes with a large al fresco dining area, with bocce court, a perfect summer setting for a glass of Prosecco ($4) or rose ($6) and people watching.
Brave Horse may get the festive crowd and the Friday after-work energy, but Cuoco serves the better happy-hour food — some melt-in-your-mouth Parma prosciutto pair with slices of Pink Lady apples, drenched with olive oil and those addicting sweet braised-beef meatballs drenched in marinara sauce. To be avoided, though, the Italian version of tempura vegetable: it's a soggy, greasy mess and the side of olive oil only makes it worse.
Cuoco, 310 Terry Ave. N., offers happy hour on weekdays from 2-6 p.m. and on weekends from 4:30-6 p.m. with $4-$6 beer, wine and cocktails and $6 small plates (206-971-0710 or cuoco-seattle.com).
Tan Vinh: 206-515-5656 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @tanvinhseattle.