Palio is on indefinite hiatus.
Palio is the real Italian stallion: sleek, stylish, strong across the board. John and Thomas Graziano's new restaurant takes over the site long-occupied by Capriccio and, too briefly, by 6 Degrees. Hard surfaces and high decibels remain. But under chefs Massimo Fedozzi and Juan Mercado, this decidedly green destination breaks away -- and not just via images of the famed Siena horse race that inspired its name. Emphases: local products, organic beef, sustainable fish. And the soy-ink menus are on recycled paper, too.
Classic: very light, very lush lasagna, sauced pink with meaty Bolognese plus bechamel, under a snowfall of Grana Padano. Perfect spaghetti with tomatoes, basil, garlic and nubbins of mozzarella gets a crowning thatch of fried zucchini. Broad ribbons of pappardelle with sauteed wild mushrooms equal it. Tortelloni stand out with ricotta and wild greens.
A delightful, diverting risotto made with Dolcetto wine and blueberries balances the winy and sweet to colorful effect. The wild-mushroom risotto -- gently earthy, creamy, excellent. Seafood fritto misto arrives crisp and blond; a salad of beets, fennel, oranges and Gorgonzola, a mini-mosaic of flavor; tomato-and-bread soup tastes more vivid than any memory of a late-summer garden. At lunch, a genuine bargain, try the rich, rustic panino of velvety tuna, with zesty olive tapenade, red onion and artichoke; a thin-crust individual pizza with three toppings; or tender, pan-seared chicken with Borettane onions, Dutch Bintje potatoes and balsamic vinegar.
At dinnertime, the grilled Berkshire pork chop materializes thick and juicy, with hot cherry peppers, peperonata and vinegar sauce; the bone-in Meyer Natural Angus rib eye, deftly charred and paired with more of those Bintje potatoes, which might make you forget about Yukon golds. Also recommended: roasted striped bass with olives and preserved lemons; and pan-roasted Alaskan halibut with Sardinian fregula, a pasta akin to Israeli couscous. For dessert, consider the artful bread pudding or the glass of gelati, spiked with either espresso or Sambuca.
A two-tower, mini-skyline of baked polenta with truffled fonduta: soothing but no more. "Carne cruda," similar to a chunky beef tartare, shows up slightly underseasoned. Black ravioletti enriched with branzino and lobster are a bit chewy.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Stop reading, start eating.