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Thursday September 18, 2014
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Palio del Sole Reviewed

 

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Rooftop dining can be a perfect compromise, and Palio del Sole elevates you above those sidewalk annoyances with continental flair. Channeling a rustic Italian trattoria with its flowering plants, stemless wineglasses, and operatic soundtrack, its trellised expanse above the corner of Main and William has for decades been the best sangria-sipping, pasta-slurping, sunset-savoring spot in town.

Just don't expect too much from the tiny rooftop kitchen. Most everything there is southern Italian in name and inspiration, with hearty, tomato-sauced pastas, crusty bread, and fruity olive oil (mint-speckled frozen mojitos and peanut butter pie are among the few exceptions). Don't make the climb if you seek the polenta or risotto served downstairs at Palio--because those trendy, technique-driven offerings remain grounded.

I found meals to savor at Palio Del Sole, and the best of them surprised me. It wasn't the enticingly described fish stew that somehow combined overcooked shellfish and undercooked salmon (although the garlic cheese toast was perfect dipped in the broth). And it wasn't the eggplant parmesan, landscaped into stark buttes of squash towering over slippery pasta. Large cheese and meat tortellini were enjoyably honest, but not unforgettable. For me, Palio del Sole's signature dish is penne pomodoro with grilled chicken. A light char on the chicken breast strips gives the tomato sauce smoky robustness that conjures garden feasts at long tables in sunlit foreign movies. Though other pastas we sampled bordered on overcooked, the penne in this dish arrived perfectly al dente.

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