Tacoma is coming into its own as a culinary destination, particularly after playing third fiddle to impressive foodie outposts Seattle and Portland. The Primo Grill makes a handsome contribution in the right direction. This Italian bistro sticks close to its sustainable roots with wonderfully prepared and locally-sourced vegetables, meats and seafood. The space is modern and open with a bar that stretches on into the next county. That's a great feature when you need to support a superb happy hour with delightful small plates that dance around some of the more formal items on the dinner menu. The wine list has a nice mix of Washington State and Italian offerings, while cocktails are expertly mixed and beers hail from local craft brewers.
Staff are informed and efficient, always confident in a good recommendation or pairing. Come early to cash in on the small plates, but save room for that transition to the dinner menu. On the short side, the grilled flatbread, chickpea frites, bruschetta and creamy parmesan polenta set the stage. Dinner plates included saffron risotto, smoked pork chop and the grilled king salmon. Roasted beets and green salad rounded out the table accouterments.
Don't let Tacoma's ugly step-child persona fool you. The Primo is just one step in creating a culinary environment worthy of recognition.