Cleveland Park’s Palena Packs Italian Restaurant, Café and Market in One

Palena Restaurant

Repeat performer: Chef Frank Ruta’s Palena has landed on Washingtonian’s list of the finest area restaurants each of the last four years. (WCities via Flickr)

Palena is a small town in the province of Chieti, in Italy’s Abruzzo region. And it’s also the namesake of an acclaimed restaurant in Cleveland Park, a great neighborhood to rent an apartment.

Palena made Washingtonian’s 2013 list of “100 Very Best Restaurants.” And check out this gushing 2011 review from The Washington Post.

Chef Frank Ruta’s mama is from Palena, a place where, claims the site, “strawberries and raspberries grow wild” and “clumps of juniper dot the paths and untamed flora cover the hillsides.” This is sounding like the elysian fields of antiquity. What’s next? A visit from Adam and Eve? (Too much Diet Mountain Dew tonight.)

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Well, I don’t know if you’ll experience anything approaching epiphany, but from the looks of things, you’ll get some great food with a nod to a certain southern European peninsula. Palena is actually a three-headed hydra, with a café, dining room and market. Speaking of the latter, the Palena Market “features imported and artisanal products used in the restaurant, as well as coffee, and ready-to-eat sweets and savories.”


View Larger Map Palena
3529 Connecticut Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008

The Palena Dining Room serves up a prix fixe tasting menu. And before you get all bent out of shape, yes, one of these menus (the PDF features two menus side by side) is apparently from summer 2012, but it gives you a good idea of the culinary wonders you’ll find here and the prices you’ll likely pay: $75 for a three-course meal (plus dessert) or $90 for a five-course meal (plus dessert). Ouch.

While the Palena Cafe dinner menu is a bit less, it’s still pretty steep, with specialties ranging from $13 (cheeseburger) to $30 (grill frittes, wild Alaskan king salmon or angus beef, both with salad), while pastas go for $15-$17.

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So yeah, this is not cheap food. But neither are you, no matter what your ex-girlfriend says (which one?!).

The Palena Cafe is open for dinner, Monday-Saturday from 5:30 to 10 p.m., Sunday, from 4:30 to 9 p.m., and for brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to  2:30 p.m. The Palena Dining Room is open Tuesday-Saturday, from 5:30 to 10 p.m. And the Palena Market is open Monday-Friday from noon to 8 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., and on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Want to make reservations? Go ahead; the Cleveland Park Metro stop on the Red Line is right across the street. Find your next apartment in the area with Apartment Showcase. 

Scott D

Scott D

Scott is a local writer and has been with the Apartment Showcase blog since its inception in 2010.

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