Little Italy is so old New York. Over the years, Little Italy has shrunk down to a few blocks. Chinatown has taken over. Although there are so many fantastic Italian restaurants through out New York that we are not lacking for good food. But, the charm of downtown Little Italy is fun.
Our middle daughter loves Italian food. Last Friday night, she was our only kid at home so I made reservations at Il Palazzo for dinner. I scrounged all the reviews and this one came up consistently as having the best italian food in the area. The restaurant even gets a 25 in Zagat for food which is as good as you can get.
We took the B down to Grand Street and weaved through the markets of Chinatown until we hit Mulberry Street. Mulberry Street is closed off to driving and all the restaurants now have outdoor cafes. It is really nice. It has feel of an Italian city.
I admit, I was skeptical on the food because the food down there has really gone down hill and is mediocre at best. The menu was your typical heavy Northern Italian food. We started off sharing 2 appetizers between the 3 of us. Grilled portobello mushrooms with smoked mozzarella and tiny pieces of proscuitto melted over the top and grilled octopus with sliced potatoes, arugula, and tomatoes. Both were outstanding. The sliced potatoes were cooked to perfection underneath the salad of arugula and tomatoes with large pieces of grilled squid and an olive oil sauce over the top. The mushrooms were also outstanding. We literally finished both plates clean. Now came the main courses. I had a standard chicken mushroom marsala with green beans on the side. The dish was beautifully put together. The brown sauce was delicious. Hints of marsala wine with browned mushrooms over a perfectly cooked piece of pounded veal. Our daughter had the Ravioli ala Casa. Large raviolis stuffed with ricotta and parmigiano cheese topped with a light tomato and basil sauce. The cheese oozed out upon cutting. My husband had one of the specials. Linguini with seafood. The sauce was a vodka type sauce but not as thick. The seafood consisted of a small lobster, huge shrimps, clams and calamari. It was unbelievable. I did not want to order the pasta, just wanted to taste. I probably consumed 1/4 of it. It was soo yummy and fresh.
The portions are tremendous. But, it tasted so good that we finished off everything and passed on dessert. We were so stuffed by the time we left that we all wished we could just unzip our pants and lay on a couch. Instead, we decided to walk. We walked all the way home into the Village. It was such a beautiful evening and the walk served us well. You realize how close everything is downtown. People were hopping in Washington Square Park. The bars were exploding into Soho. A real New York night.
The good news is that Il Palazzao will probably be around for many years to come.