Restaurant Review: Tutto Pasta Trattoria

Lea Landwehr, Staff Writer

You might guess from its name that Tutto Pasta Trattoria is an Italian restaurant and that it has a lot of noodle-based dishes. And you would be right on both accounts. In fact, the name translated means “all pasta restaurant,” and the menu lives up to the name. With the exception of pizza, all of the menu items are pasta-based dishes. I suppose a real pasta-and pizza-hater could fill up on appetizers, but does such a person even exist? This is not a rhetorical question. The answer is no.

If you’re looking for cozy and relaxed dining, you’ve found it. Being downtown, the restaurant is crowded and a little on the rowdy side. As far as the crowd goes, Tutto has really made the most of its space by using three indoor dining floors and a summer patio. Now, as far as the rowdiness goes, file it under ambiance and speak loudly to your dining mate and your server.

The tattooed server I had was very attentive, but the hostess wasn’t quite as friendly. A good hostess has a dual job: to greet customers and show them to their table. This one bypassed the former task but got a gold star on the latter because she offered any spot I wanted on the ground floor. I wisely chose a table by the window. If you’re eating on State Street, people-watching easily becomes your entertainment while waiting for the food to arrive. In the summer, this makes the patio the best option. In winter months, a window seat will do nicely.

And speaking of food, you’re probably wondering about two aspects of Tutto’s dishes: if they were good and if the portions were generous. One answer satisfies both queries: Yes. And they’ve won several of Madison Magazine’s Best of Madison awards to prove it. Even so, I wouldn’t say the Farfallete Salmon was great, but it was good. Ditto for my latte and the bruschetta appetizer. It is worth noting that the food all seemed very fresh. The tomatoes on my bruschetta could’ve been picked as soon as I ordered the dish, if taste was any indication.

There are lots of pasta choices offered here, but the wine list could be a little more extensive. My best guess is that this was a deliberate decision to avoid any confusion that Tutto’s might be thought of as fine dining. Not that anyone would come to this conclusion anyway. They’re not pulling any punches at Tutto or trying to be anything they’re not. However, Tutto Pasta Trattoria is a safe choice for casual downtown eating.

If you go

Address: 305 State St Madison, WI 53703

Phone: (608) 294-1000

Entree cost: $8-$19

Hours: Sun-Thur 11-9, Fri-Sat 11-10