Eat Here: Palma Restaurant, New YorkBy Angelica Malin
Looking for a date-night spot in the West Village? Then look no further than Palma – one of the best family-run Italian restaurants in New York. Here’s what you need to know:
The restaurant is the lovechild of Palma and her husband, Pierre, who met in 1987 in New York City. The two instantly fell in love – and together created D’Orazio Food Events, one of the first photoshoot catering companies, and opened Palma in 2001, a small 35-seat restaurant that has warmth and good food at its heart.
Palma is about as atmospheric as it gets. Inside, you’ll find low-lighting and home decor than make it feel like a Nonna’s living room – their marble bar is a great place to perch up and people watch. But their fairy-lit garden is where the real magic happens; lit by candlelight and surrounded by greenery, it’s the perfect place to while away a balmy summer’s evening in NYC. It’s ideal for dates, but is also a great spot for group dinners with friends or a solo evening with a glass of wine and a good book. When you imagine romance and good vibes in the West Village, Palma is it.
The food is really very special. Their head chef has been making its iconic dishes for over 30 years and many of the dishes are family recipes, handed down through generations. The quality of the ingredients is second to none; they use fresh produce, which arrives daily from organic, biodynamic farms and local open-air Farmers’ Markets. The food has history in every bite; their pasta is handmade, prepared the same way for centuries and their delicious focaccia is made in-house using their generations’ old yeast.
Start with a selection of Italian appetizers; the fried calamari with lemon and sage is lightly-battered and oh-so-fresh (all the fish is from wild sources) and the Insalata Di Pomodoro is a light, delicious salad – using Farmer’s Market heirloom tomatoes, garlic and extra virgin olive oil, it tastes just like summer. The star of the show from the appetizers for me, however, are the Arancini – light, crispy on the outside, filled with flavoursome rice with tomato and parmesan, they are little bites of heaven – perfect with a crisp glass of white wine.
Moving onto mains, we went for pasta because when in Rome. In all honesty, I don’t think you can go wrong ordering any of the pasta dishes here – but the Cacio e Pepe Ravioli is a local favourite for a reason. It’s simply divine. Expect handmade, gluten-free pasta, filled with ricotta, pecorino and freshly cracked black pepper – it’s salty, rich and incredibly moreish. For something pretty special, try the Spaghetti All’Astice – artisan pasta from Gragnano, with half a Maine lobster, homemade tomato sauce and peperoncino for a kick. It’s decadent and delicious – the sauce is the perfect accompaniment for the incredibly fresh lobster and coats the spaghetti for this rich, velvety sensation.
And if you’re a truffle-lover, you can’t miss the Fettuccine Ai Funghi with mushroom and black truffle. The pasta is packed full of umami flavours and really hits the savoury note – and somehow isn’t too rich. You can taste the quality of the ingredients in every bite here; the mushrooms are still firm and packed full of flavour, and in the Lobster pasta, each tomato bursts with flavour. It’s such a joy to eat such quality-driven produce and each dish is a triumph.
Ending on a sweet note, you must try their Tiramisu – it’s popular for a reason. Indulgent, not too sweet, filled with layers of coffee and sweet cream, it’s the kind of homemade Tiramisu that really is the test of a good Italian restaurant. The gluten-free chocolate Caprese cake made with almond flour and accompanied by cherries and vanilla ice cream is also to die for. I’m dreaming of it right now.
There’s a great Italian wine list, and a lovely selection of different Italian-inspired spritz cocktails. I also have it on good authority that they make a very decent Espresso Martini. Ask the bartender for his recommendation and you won’t go wrong.
Honestly, Palma is the dream. The meal was faultless, from start to finish, and I implore anyone in the West Village to make their way to Palma for a meal you won’t forget. Go, sit in the garden, order the ravioli, a glass of ice-cold Vermentino and bask in the beauty of New York in the summer.