Cheat Sheet: Intermezzo Carmine

By Leslie Kelly  |  June 23, 2014
Credit: Claire Nelson

Welcome to the Cheat Sheet, a back-pocket guide to restaurants and bars you need to know.

Arancini at Intermezzo Carmine

The gist: Owners of the Old School Il Terrazzo Carmine created Intermezzo, easily the most sumptuous bar in Pioneer Square, to attract a younger crowd. 

The vibe: It's easy to sink into the ultra-comfy chairs and couches, glittery crystal chandeliers casting a soft light in the cream-colored space. We love the seats by the window, especially when they're open. If you're looking to escape sports on TV, this isn't the place, as there's a giant screen hanging above the bar. 

Eat this: The menu includes sandwiches, like chicken Parmigiana, and primi-size portions of pasta, like carbonara, that aren't exactly reinventing the wheel. Still, the saffron rice aracini, a pair of deep-fried rice balls with gooey mozzarella tucked inside, makes a nice, snack-y companion to a cocktail or a glass of Italian wine.

Drink this: Bartender Cody Robison has created some surprising signature drinks featuring various riffs on a bourbon base. Our favorite? The Sicilian Sour, combining bourbon, Ammaretto and apricot liqueur shaken over ice until frothy and served up.

Skip this: The antipasti plate looks promising. But most of the elements, like stuffed mushrooms and polenta topped with sauteed mushrooms, need salt. 

The tab: Cocktails run between $10 and $12, while glass pours range from $8 to $13. Starters, sandwiches and salads are from $6 to $20 for an assortment of seasonal seafood. No plans yet for a happy hour.

The verdict: Gracious service and a spectacular setting are a big draw, though we'd like to see chef Juan Vega's kitchen up its game with a few more nuanced takes on the classics.