#15 Palena Café, Washington, D.C. from 15 Best Italian Restaurants in America Slideshow

15 Best Italian Restaurants in America Slideshow

Palena Café
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#15 Palena Café, Washington, D.C.

Palena is known as much for the cheeseburger on the caf menu as for the more elegant, seasonally driven food that is served in the dining room. After a stint as the White House chef, it was an interesting move for chef-restaurateur Frank Ruta to set his restaurant in Cleveland Park, far away from the glitzy, lobbyist-packed K Street dining scene. Though the restaurants dining room offers sophisticated menu items like a guinea hen ballotine, the caf really shines as a low-key neighborhood spot, turning out a simple roast chicken from the wood-fired oven and homey pasta dishes like spaghetti with cauliflower, pine nuts, and egg.