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