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Originally published March 7, 2014 at 6:30 AM | Page modified March 7, 2014 at 10:55 AM

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Fast, tasty Italian at Pallino

Amid the recent spate of new restaurants at University Village, old stand-by Pallino offers an Italian spin on fast food.

Seattle Times arts critic

Pallino University Village

Casual Italian

2626 N.E. 46th St., Seattle 206-522-8617

Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Etc: Major credit cards; no obstacles to access; wine and beer; free mall parking

Prices: $$

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The new dining establishments at University Village have multiplied exponentially lately. But for quick, well-priced, filling fare, in a pleasant spot that caters to busy shoppers and a family crowd, an old standby pasta joint still beckons.

Pallino (named for a ball used in the game of bocce) is a local chain (with other branches in Redmond, Issaquah, Woodinville and SeaTac Airport) that whips up savory pastas and other Italian favorites to order.

The menu: Pasta ($6.95-$11.95), cooked al dente (but not too chewy), and with a variety of sauces and a crusty roll on the side, is the centerpiece here, but the individual and large pizzas ($7.75-$12.95) are also fresh and popular, as are the panini and sub sandwiches ($4.95-$7.75). Several salads ($3.95-$8.95) and soups, including a meatball-chicken noodle concotion called wedding soup ($4.75-$6.95) are also on offer.

For dessert, there’s the traditional cannoli pastry or creamy gelati. And kids can have discounted “Bambini” entrees ($5.25).

What to write home about: The four-seasons pizza, with prosciutto, salami, artichokes, mushrooms and fresh tomatoes, puts us in mind of Napoli. Among the pastas, the woodsy forest mushroom with penne, and the piquant sun-dried tomato pesto with penne, are standouts. One of our favorites, an aptly messy sub sandwich, boasts well-spiced meatballs slathered with good tomato sauce and blanketed in provolone. And for a lighter appetite, a zesty Mediterranean green salad , with artichoke hearts, tomatoes, feta cheese and olives delivers.

What to skip: Several new pastas “primavera,” featuring sauces with unappetizingly overcooked veggies.

The setting: An inviting, open space with tables and booths, a fireplace; plenty of room for a large group.

Summing up: A small four-seasons pizza ($7.95); a small salad ($5.95); a cup of Italian wedding soup ($4.95); a sun-dried tomato pesto pasta ($8.95); and a meatball sub ($7.95) came to $35.75 before tax and tip, and made a satisfying light dinner for three.

Misha Berson:

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