1505 E Franklin St, Chapel Hill, NC | Directions 2751435.930419 -79.034508
Bar none, Il Palio has the best martinis in the Triangle. Every Thursday night is Martini night, all martinis are $6, an outstanding bargain when you consider the portion size and the craftsmanship with which it is prepared. So much better than spending twice as much for a thimbleful of liquor at other places. The selection of over 30 variations is impressive, running the gamut from a dirty vodka with gorgonzola stuffed olives to the sweeter Tuscan Sunrise. Delicious complimentary hors d'oeuvres seal the deal. The staff are knowledgeable, professional, and friendly, and the setting is top notch. Classy and opulent with leather chairs, marble tiles, and subdued lighting, the open seating in the lounge has an Old World feel and provides the perfect forum for friends to meet for a drink after work. Word has gotten out about Thursday Night Martinis at Il Palio, and it has become popular with the young professional crowd in the past few months. Bottom line: If you want to meet interesting people in a beautiful setting and enjoy a first class martini, look no further than the Il Palio in Chapel Hill.
Great brunch – We enjoyed our first visit to Il Palio for Sunday brunch. The hotel is small and European in feel, with fountains and statuary. Inside, it's elegant and the brunch is set in a corner of the lobby. The website's menu is almost exactly what was offered: numerous creative salads, carved meats, vegetables, antipasto cheeses and meats, and delightful little desserts such as tiramisu, raspberry pastries, and little individual chocolate cheesecakes. High points: carved tenderloin, roasted red potatoes, tomato salad, and hot pastas (penne with tomato and basil and tortellini.) This isn't the usual steam-table fare with cheap items just to fill you up faster and to inflate the item count. Add in free champagne starting at noon, a pianist on the baby grand, attentive service, and quaint dining rooms and the $24.95 is a great value.
Very enjoyable night – I have to agree with several people that the negative reviews are most likely the result of an off night. The waiter was very friendly and attentive (but not too attentive). The ambience was classy and, for the most part, quiet. The bar piano was sometimes a bit louder than necessary, but not overbearing. The food was excellent. As far as the serving size, I had the scallops and was served 5 large scallops (a good serving). My date had the seabass and received 2 nice-sized strips. Along with an appetizer, a salad and dessert, we were both satisfied. All that, and a nice bottle of wine for only $130, I think it was very reasonable. Please don't decide not to go to this restaurant b/c of a couple of bad reviews. You will be missing out on a pleasurable dining experience.
I'll join the fray...... – There seems to be a big difference of opinion here. I have been to Il Palio several times over the past 4 years. This restaurant is absolutely top-notch in every area. Order the tasting menu and let it come! You will be treated to exquisite dishes paired with lovely wines. The sommelier will answer any question, and will even tell you where to obtain the wines you have locally. It lives in my "big 3" restaurants. Others: Xaviars in Piermont, NY and Toque in Montreal.
Eat somewhere else – Went for valentines day 2004. Had an 8:30 reservation and wasn't seated until after nine. They had a special limited menu yet it still took too long to get our food. When it did come, we were brought the wrong food three times. Getting our water refilled was a chore also. I'll never go back.
Better wine expert – We haven't been out to eat here since an awful experience with their old sommelier years ago. The ignorant ape clearly knew nothing of fine wine and ruined our evening with pushy, bad selections. I'm happy to report that the current sommelier has all the taste and expertise the last goon was missing. We loved our food, and the meal was complimented at every course by beautifully chosen wines. We're looking forward to dining here again regularly.
food guy – What's the fuss? The setting was formal to the point of pretentious, the service was slow, and the food was mediocre. Tomato and homemade ricotta sald was bland and undistinguished; the tomatos were unripe and the truffle vinaigrette was a non-presence. The hand made gnocchi tasted fresh but the Carolina Crab and Creamless Lobster Sauce was as boring as dry toast. The tiramisu was a pale imitation of a classic desert. I recognize that I only sampled a small number of dishes, but if the other dishes are similar, perhaps their motto should be "Afraid of flavor".
$$$$$ – Alway an excellent dining experience, but the new chef takes it to a higher level. Then let them pair it with the right wine. Perfecto!!
"Ill" Palio – In a less pretentious, mre reasonably priced environment, the meal I had would have been well below average -- at those prices the meal should have been excellent -- it wasn't. Overcooked scallops, gummy pasta, tasteless risotto, and a very subpar desert. Add to that a wine list that is inflated by about 15% and a truly annoying "wandering" guitarist I'll never be back -- Anyone that thinks this is the best resturant in the Triangle obviously have never been to Magnolia Grill, or Four Square or Second Empire or Mo's Diner or Bloomsbury Bistro ... or an Applebees for that matter.
Lives up to ratings – I can't believe the negative ratings on this place. These people must have really hit it on a bad night, or totally mis-ordered. We had excellent, friendly service. The place is a little heavy on the decor, but not so much that it's stuffy. The scallops appetizer was killer, and the rack of lamb was also outstanding. The only mistake was the uncooked apple tart dessert, which was removed from the bill.
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