Visitors to Palermo Trattoria Pizzeria are likely to enjoy this comfortable eatery's welcoming staff, the dark-wood-and-stone-accented interior and the soothing outdoor patio. So pleasant, in fact, is the patio's greenery and dribbling fountain that one might just forget that this 9-month-old eatery sits smack in the middle of the burgeoning Watkins Centre development.
Given the place's name and the fact that it's owned by Palermo, Sicily, native Marianna Merki, it's no surprise that the menu sports heavily Italian roots — Italian, that is, with a few oddball American items such as Buffalo wings and cheeseburgers sprinkled in.
On a recent lunch visit, I bypassed the wings in favor of grilled calamari (shown). And despite highly uneven grill marks and larger pieces that were a little too underdone, I'm glad I did. The fresh, tender and briny tubes were terrific in tandem with the supplied lemon, parsley and garlic-accented olive oil.
Italian deli-meat lovers are likely to dig the club sandwich stuffed with (in addition to the usual suspects) mortadella, sopressata, prosciutto and provolone. So thick is this carnivore's delight that partial deconstruction might become necessary just to enable its consumption.
The mess of pleasantly al dente bucatini pasta sounded good but ultimately fell short because of cooked-to-near-death eggplant chunks and excessively applied, overly sweetened tomato sauce. Significantly cutting back on the sauce would produce the greatest improvement.
Despite a recommendation by the affable server, the tiramisu's relative lack of coffee-and-booze punch failed to impress. Making matters worse, this already-soggy finale arrived swimming in unnecessary, out-of-place raspberry- and crème anglaise-style sauces.
A pleasant staff and dining area are not enough to make a restaurant worthy of multiple visits; consistently good food is a must. Whether Palermo will achieve that consistency remains to be seen.