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Palomino: A love affair with Italy in Jerusalem

SC 26/08/2021 1


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When I heard that a new Italian dairy restaurant had opened in Jerusalem, my first thought was… oh, this is going to kill my Ashkenazi stomach – but I love a good pasta meal, so I’ll try it out! 
My last two overseas trips BC (before corona) were to Italy. One trip was to the Amalfi Coast with my friend Erica (otherwise known as In Jerusalem Editor Erica Schachne), so who better to eat Italian with than my food-loving travel buddy? She of course contributed her comments to this review.
Palomino is located just minutes away from the city center on King George Avenue. Upon entering the restaurant, you pass a lovely outdoor dining area that is quite welcoming with tables and a reception area for guests. The seating is behind a wall of fake grass, leaving you feeling encased in a garden. With relaxation immediately commencing, it’s easy to forget you are sitting on a busy street in the heart of the intense Holy City.

The ambience inside is tasteful and romantic, with comfortable seating and a long bar perfect for tete-a-tetes. The lighting is flattering and background music is at just the right volume for a pleasant atmosphere, while allowing one to actually hear the person across the table (sadly a rarity these days).
Another option? The stylish back porch. Perch there with an imbibing partner and take in the view high over Independence Park.
 The inviting ambience of Palomino (credit: Courtesy) The inviting ambience of Palomino (credit: Courtesy)
Now let’s talk about the food. They got it right on so many levels. From the thick balsamic vinegar imported from Italy (my obsession since my visit there, the supermarket version just cannot compare) to the meal-ending cannoli, most of the offerings we ate were delicious. 
We kicked things off with Aperol Spritz cheers, a fine shout-out to our Italy trip. Our starters? Burrata, an Italian cow-milk cheese made from mozzarella and cream, which had a good texture, but we both felt it needed more balsamic. Once I squirted some on, all was right with the world. The Crudo di Tonno (slices of red tuna) brought to mind the cliche – it melts in your mouth.
While the food was tasty and presented beautifully, it boiled down to preferences. I loved the Ravioli Neri (black-ink pasta with ricotta cheese and sardines), a mix of flavors unlike any other I have ever tasted, while Erica preferred the Artichoke Tortellini (with a sauce of olives, onions and Parmesan). 
We both loved the Arancini, crispy, deep-fried balls of rice, a Sicilian classic. The Brown Butter Gnocchi (in an unusual oblong shape) with toasted hazelnuts in a pumpkin cream were finger-linking good.
The dish we both agreed we would definitely order again was the Fritti Misti, a generous portion of well-fried breaded fish and zucchini “chips” with a succulent lemon aioli dipping sauce. It was the heartiest of everything we sampled and just right for splitting with someone.
Desserts included a decadent cannoli made in-house with a hint of rosewater flavor that reminded me of my favorite winter snack sachlav. The panacotta, not made by the restaurant, had a jelly-like texture – and since I’m afraid of jello, I did not enjoy the flavor or texture. Perhaps someone without irrational jello fears may enjoy it (though Erica was not a fan either). We did not try the chocolate cake, but my sister went a few days later on my recommendation and loved it. 
There are quite a few interesting vino choices, including a mix of European, French, Italian, Spanish and New Zealand wines.
The owners are two Israeli brothers who love Italian food and have traveled to the motherland many times. This is not the first restaurant in the family as the older brother had a successful cafe in Modi’in for 15 years. Born and raised in Jerusalem, Palomino is the culmination of their dream to open an Italian restaurant in their hometown. 
Palomino is under Tzohar kashrut, open from 5 p.m. till whenever, and boasts an “interesting and different” Friday brunch menu. The overall experience was very positive, although as the portions are more tapas-sized (small dishes to be shared), it is priced slightly on the higher side. For those looking for a new and interesting idea for an event, Palomino also caters.
Palomino is a lactose-intolerant nightmare, and I enjoyed every minute! The vibe is trendy, the service is wonderful and they truly seem to want the customer experience to keep them coming back. So grab a fine wine or cocktail and a dish or two and enjoy the ambience and the company you’re with. 
Confidential? Palomino is the perfect place for a date.
Kosher, Tzohar
The writer was a guest of the restaurant. 

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Co-Host for Coffee Mouth Scarecrow Show. Retired NAVY Chief/Flag Writer Psalms 118:24 This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

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