Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Palio Ristorante Italiano

The cuisine at Palio is a delicious blend of Old World tradition with contemporary flare. Each meal combines familiar, hand-crafted Italian favorites with seasonal, local items such as venison, lamb, wild salmon, and a varied Virginia harvest. Owner Antonio Pino's thoughtful wine selection focuses prominently on exceptional Italian vintages, but includes local wines, as well. All bread, pasta, and charcuterie are made fresh in-house, and you'll find new surprises in their delightful daily specials.

In a departure from his usual low profile, Michael O’Connor has introduced Palio to Historic Downtown Leesburg. Under the direction of Proprietor Antonio Pino, known as “Nino” to his friends and patrons, Palio offers a new dining experience. A well known face in the Washington area, Nino has put establishments like Primi Piatti in Washington, D.C. on the map. He brings his elegance and charm to Palio clientele in a memorable dining experience.

The Palio equestrian theme derives from the infamous, centuries-old Palio di Siena horse race which began in the mid-17th century. The restaurant comfortably seats 65 upstairs and boasts a 24-seat full-service lounge at street level. Private parties may be booked in a spacious room complete with a full bar upstairs. Most of the menu is seasonal with the spectacular wine list including many local selections.

Today I spent the day with my parents and we took a drive out to Leesburg to visit Morven Park - the mansion of former Governor Westmoreland Davis and his wife during the mid-late 1800s.  Before our tour, we decided to try Palio for lunch, as Italian is one of our favorite cuisines.  We were the only ones in the restaurant, so it was nice to have the dining room to ourselves and we enjoyed our table by the window.  The decor is subtle European and elegant.  Our server was prompt and friendly.  My father and I each ordered a panini, which came with side salads and was the perfect size for lunch.  The bread was softer than expected, but very tasty.  My father, being the traditionalist that he is, really enjoyed his meatballs.  My mother ordered the grilled ahi entree, but was not excited by her choice.  She ate too much of the bread basket that may have affected her appetite and she also did not care for the sweet caponata that overwhelmed the fish.  Regardless, we enjoyed our time at Palio and found it quite charming.  The other Italian dishes on the menu looked rustic and inviting.  I may be more likely to return to Primi Piatti in DC to try the other entrees.

Total Rating: 3.625
Food: 3.5, Price: 4, Service: 3.5, Ambience: 4, Accessibility: 3

What I ate:

Panino Vegetariano
grilled sandwich with tomato, Portobello mushrooms, mozzarella, basil pesto

Plus my parents ate:

breaded and fried risotto croquette
stuffed with veal ragu and buffalo mozzarella

Panino di Polpette
meatballs with marinara sauce and fresh mozzarella on ciabatta bread

Tonno alla Siciliana
grilled Ahi Tuna steak, fennel pollen dusted, Sicilian Caponata,
three year aged vin cotto

  Palio Ristorante Italiano on Urbanspoon

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