Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Beauty on Cornelia: Palma

Courtesy of Shammara Lawrence (@fashionpopqueen)
Palma is a small, cozy Italian restaurant hiding on Cornelia Street, with an unexpectedly mesmerizing setting. 
My friend and I sat in the “garden” area. It’s an open area further back that has been decorated with plants, flowers, and beautiful string lights that hang below a clear roof top adding a touch of romance.
It was a Saturday night and the crowd seemed to be between their 20s and 50s.  Their attire leaned towards the casual side. The overall ambiance was very cool and relaxed, but the noise level was on the higher side. 
When we opened our menus, the waitress came over and greeted us.
“How are you doing today? I just wanted to let you know some of the specials for today!” she said with a smile.
She continued
in an apologetic voice, “I’m so sorry but I didn’t memorize it all so I will have to look at my notes.”
I smiled and said, “Don’t worry about it.”
We decided to taste the grilled octopus with Yukon gold potatoes and green beans, one of the special appetizers for the day. In addition, we also got the “tartare di tonno” - tuna tartare. It was fresh but I thought there was too much avocado and not enough flavor. I think it would have been better had they been more generous with the balsamic vinegar they had on the dish for plating.

The grilled octopus was really good and full of flavor. The texture was soft and it was so nice to chew. The smoky aroma and the richness of the potatoes seemed to pair well very nicely. We both preferred the octopus over the tuna.
For my main, I ordered the ‘ravioli ai carciofi’ – ravioli filled with artichokes, served in basil and butter sauce with fontina cheese. As an artichoke fan, I didn’t think this dish did the artichoke justice. The filling was very salty and had a surprisingly sour taste. I couldn’t even taste the basil in the sauce and overall, I didn’t enjoy my dish.
My friend ordered the lasagna with the wild mushrooms and béchamel sauce. It had a crispy outer layer and creamy, rich inner layers. It was such a simple dish that had great flavor and was deliciously, addicting. It was plated quite simply: cut from the pan it was baked in, topped with some of the mushrooms. I preferred the lasagna over my ravioli.
For dessert, I had the crème fraîche panna cotta with strawberries, berry coulis and mini meringue cookies. It was creamy, soft, sweet and tangy dish that simply melted in your mouth. It was a wonderful way to end my meal.
The second time I went, I was running a little late so told my friends to ask to be seated in the garden. They fell in love with how beautiful it was and how unexpected it was despite passing by the restaurant plenty of times. We went on a Tuesday night and there was a lighter crowd than Saturday. We had the same waitress I had on Saturday, and she was still nice but she memorized the specials this time. I couldn't tell if she remembered me though.

For the appetizer, I chose one of their specials – a seafood salad with shrimp, mussels, clams, scallops, squid, fregola, and arugula dressed in olive oil. It was so mesmerizing that I didn’t talk to my friends while eating. I wanted to focus on every bite that I took. It was sweet, savory, rich and refreshing. The fragrance of the olive oil made this perfect.
I had the lasagna that my friend had on Saturday night for my main and it was just as good if not better. Creamy, rich, and crispy - everything worked. I definitely had a better experience with the food the second time I went.
Palma is not an economically exclusive restaurant. Their prices for the dishes are in the $10s to $30s range, which I don’t find painstakingly horrible compared to the taste and quality of the food and even, the overall experience. They even do take-away which is great! Good food to go is the best thing you can ask for! I do think there might be room for improvement with their tables and chairs (can be slightly uncomfortable). Overall, Palma has grown on me within the two times I’ve been there and I would like to go back to this a cozy, beautiful spot.

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