Say what you will about tourist restaurants: There’s civic optimism in their very existence. This town is expecting visitors! they announce, some louder than others—and in Seattle, Orfeo loudest of all. From the moment you walk in off Third Avenue it’s amply clear that Orfeo is all about the hotel guest: It’s huge (sprawling on two levels, in the old Brasa space), its service palely pleasant, its Italian menu at once focus grouped and needing focus, its food palely produced across the board. Among the pastas, a tomato creme tagliatelle was oversauced and underinteresting; among mains, a roasted half chicken was oddly flavorless for meat that had taken a trip through a wood oven and was arrayed on soggy panzanella.
On and on it goes, through more pastas and more mains and eight happy hour noshes and a dozen appetizers—with only the vivid and light-crusted pizzas making better use of that wood oven to rise above middling. Owners Terresa and Kevin Davis will have to work the hotel concierges and the Restaurant Week promotions and the Groupon strategies to fill this handsome establishment restaurant, but then they’re accustomed to that—after all, they own Blueacre Seafood near the convention center and Steelhead Diner in Pike Place Market.