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Best Italian Restaurants in the U.S.

Best Italian Restaurants in the U.S.: Palena Cafe

Greg Powers

Palena Café, Washington, D.C.

Really the tale of two restaurants, Palena combines an upscale dining room with a prix fixe, and a less formal café with more options. Former White House chef-restaurateur Frank Ruta wows visitors to the Cleveland Park neighborhood with fresh ingredients, elegant pastas, and wood-fired pizza. Pickings include the Shenandoah rabbit, Bacon and Eggs (goose egg ravioli with smoked pork belly and shiitake), and, that’s right, the Palena cheeseburger: a house-ground patty, on a baked sesame bun, with truffle cheese and pickles.


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