Essex Fells Magazine – February 2014

Montclair’s Palazzo has an Elegant Air
October 11, 2013 – Star Ledger ★★★


Colorful Gamberetti con Pepe pairs garlic shrimp with long, hot Italian peppers.
Tradition reigns at Palazzo, where a decidedly retro air is refreshing and relaxing.
The restaurant’s Mediterranean food is artfully prepared but without a cutting edge that would be discordant here — you’ll encounter old favorites such as plump pillows of tender house-made ravioli (price varies), calamari balsamico ($12) and chicken Sorrento ($19), lovingly layered with eggplant, spinach and prosciutto under mellow fontina cheese.
Some updated dishes that please, but never startle, include veal with the expected white wine/lemon sauce ($23), getting a little extra flash from shrimp and fava beans, and a pounded-thin grilled French-cut pork chop ($23) jazzed with fennel, radishes, arugula and Bermuda onion.
On Friday and Saturday nights, pleasant jazz adds to the ambience, the perfect soundtrack for a delightful meal. It might be a pianist going solo, or with perhaps a clarinet or a bass for accompaniment, playing timeless favorites.
Chef-owner John Giglio, a New York Restaurant School grad who cooked at various establishments in New York, including historic Fraunces Tavern, discovered Palazzo (which means palace in Italian) when he decided to relocate 16 years ago. After working as the chef for two years, he bought the business, making the transition from straight Italian to a Mediterranean influence and some other flourishes.

john giglio 300dpi.jpg

You can, of course, rely on the warm house-made foccaccia that starts the meal, prosciutto-speckled and meltingly effective gnocchi pesto ($19) and the rigatoni with sausage ($18), but those who prefer to branch out may prefer something like the pollo Mattone ($23), a Cornish game hen.
Crisp-skinned Long Island duck ($27) with an orange demi-glace could be a time-worn cliché, but the touch here is light and expert. The flavorful demi-glace is not intrusive, as a heavy sauce would be, while sauteed spinach and risotto, enlivened by mushrooms, make graceful partners.
A three-course prix fixe menu for $40 is one way to play this palace economically, with three choices available for each course. Those interested in eating gluten-free should tell the server their preference.
Many of the desserts are made in-house, including the semifreddo ($8), a sort of cross in this interpretation between a mousse and ice cream, but including meringue, candied walnuts, lady fingers and whipped cream. It’s a delightful change from the omnipresent tiramisu ($7), which also is available.
While there is no wine sold by the glass, several half-bottles are available at $14-$24 for those not interested in investing in a full bottle from the Domenico Winery in California. (After a change in state law last year, Domenico was the first out-of-state winery to sell its wares in BYOW restaurants, which previously were restricted to selling New Jersey wine.) Patrons still may bring in their own wine if they prefer.
Staff is on the ball. The hostess noticed I had stopped on my way in to tell the piano player how much I liked what he was doing, so she quickly switched plans for where we would be seated, making sure we were close enough to hear the music.
Our pleasant server had the answers to the all the questions we sent her way, and seemed genuinely concerned about how our meal was going.
I do think the specials should have been printed out, which is a management decision. There were a few too many for a recitation, and if they’re going to be spoken, prices should be added to the speech.

11 S. Fullerton Ave., Montclair. (973) 746-6778. Hours: 11:30-3 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays, 5-9:30 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 5-10:30 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, 1:30-9 p.m. Sundays.
The restaurant seats 100, with room for 16 more outside if the weather cooperates. The noise level isn’t low when the place is hopping, but it’s not distracting and it’s possible to carry on a conversation at the table without straining to hear.
Those who want to come on a weekend are advised to make a reservation a week in advance.
Palazzo, which was remodeled in April, offers a gracious setting for grown-ups who want to dine in civilized style without pretense.


February 2012


Bon Appetit
By Janet Curran Perlman, Photos by Dan Epstein

Continental Food in a Perfect Setting

Under the ownership of executive chef John Giglio, Palazzo restaurant had been a popular mainstay of the Montclair dining scene for the last 10 years, delighting diners with its innovative cuisine and relaxing ambiance.

Executive Chef John Giglio

With an array if Italian and Mediterranean-influenced dishes and a handsome interior of burnished wood floors, faux-finished walls and stunning artwork, the restaurant continues to be a popular and relaxing destination for those seeking a special night out.
Palazzo’s extensive appetizer menu features a wealth of temping choices. Soon after being seated, we overheard a gentleman at the next table raving about the mushroom soup—“the best,” he said. Always up for a challenge, we made it our first appetizer choice and found ourselves in complete agreement about the richly seductive $6 starter.

Other outstanding choices were the $12 Crabmeat Ravioli alla Nostra, black ravioli filled with lump crabmeat and imported cheese, brightened by a light shrimp and saffron broth, atop a rni of garlicky spinach, as well as a perfectly executed Risotto con Fungi (wild mushrooms), $10, luxuriously enhanced with white truffle oil.

Mozzarella Tower

Don’t Miss the Blackened Scallops over organic green and Roma tomatoes,dressed with a lemon caper sauce and toasted pignoli, $13, and the $12 Calamari Balsamico, lightly sweetened with a drizzle of reduced aged balsamic vinegar—outstanding. Continuing our deep-sea romp, we indulged in Polipo, $12, an unusual dish of grilled octopus, pancetta, watercress, and braised Bermuda onions, served with crispy potatoes, with softened the brininess of the octopus.
A small interlude with a sip of wine, and we grazed on the Insalate Mista, $10, a refreshing combination of baby arugula, fennel, radishes, Parmesano Reggiano, with a roasted garlic lemon vinaigrette.
As we crossed into the entrée side, here’s a vote for one of Palazzo’s signature dishes—the colorful $19 Linguini alla Nostra, homemade black squid-ink linguine tossed with a colorful mélange of Filet Mignonshrimp, clams, mussels, and calamari, served in a fresh, light marinara sauce that never overpowered the succulent seafood—a lively combination of colors and tastes.
A big hit with my guest were the braised Short Ribs, $27, falling-of-the-bone tender and served with a burgundy wine sauce, sautéed spinach and mushroom risotto.
Enjoying a welcome detour from the usual desserts found in continental restaurants, we savored two nicely executed finishes, both priced at $8. A light bread pudding, served with a crème anglaise, was topped  with cinnamon whipped cream, and an unusual caramel apple tart combined the sweet and tart with

Bread Pudding

slices of crisp Granny Smith apples, layered with cream cheese, brown sugar, caramel and spices and topped off with a scoop of vanilla gelato.
Although guests are welcome to bring their own wine, Palazzo is able to offer a full array of New Jersey wines, champagnes and ports through an arrangement with a licensed New Jersey wine maker.
Enjoy live jazz Fridays and Saturdays either from your table of from a front-row seat at the cozy bar. The restaurant also offers private parties and off-premise catering.






The atmosphere in Palazzo is rustic and comfortable with a welcoming feel. Not only can customers enjoy a full course Italian meal made with the best ingredients, it also has live jazz on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Palazzo will also provide off-site catering for your events as well as host banquets and parties.
Hours: Lunch: Mon – Fri, 11:30am – 3pm; Sat, 11:30am – 4pm. Dinner: Mon – Thu, 5pm – 9:30pm; Fri, Sat, 5pm – 10:30pm; Sun, 2pm – 9pm
Handicap Accessible: The entrance is at street level.
Payments accepted: MasterCard, Discover, Visa, Cash, Debit Card, American Express, Diner’s Club
Products: Italian cuisine
Food & dining options: Low calorie, Vegetarian
General services: Catering, Phone orders, Eat-in, Take-out
Menu link:
Specialties: Pasta, veal, chicken
Parking: Paid lot, On-street: metered
Cuisine: Italian
What dish is most representative of the restaurant?: Veal Palazzo, Chicken Brianna
Price level: $$
Reservations: Accepted
Features: Dinner, Private Parties, Catering, Live Entertainment, Brunch, Lunch, Banquets, Group-friendly, Outdoor seating, View
Atmosphere: Fine dining
Dress code: Smart casual

April, 2008

Birthday traditions vary widely from family to family, but somewhere in those traditions you can usually find some food. We thought it might be fun to find out where our younger “foodies” would go to dinner for their birthday.
restaurant review
by Jeffrey Kautz (7th grade)
“When my parents ask me where I want to go for “good” food, I say Palazzo. Like most families, going out to dinner usually means something quick and simple, like pizza or Chinese. But birthdays are a great excuse to go somewhere special.
I like going to Palazzo for a bunch of reasons. First of all, Palazzo is located near Church Street, which is a great place to walk around if the weather is nice. But if it’s not nice out, the restaurant itself is really comfortable and cozy. The atmosphere is festive, but not so noisy that we can’t hear each other, and there is usually a live music performance. Last weekend we went to Palazzo to celebrate my sister visiting home from college. There were two musicians playing that night, a pianist and a saxophonist. It’s really nice to hear live music playing in the background while you’re dining.
The waiters at Palazzo are all really attentive; they come over and bring you things sometimes even before you have a chance to ask! One of the best things about Palazzo is that even though the food is really fresh and delicious, they don’t take forever to serve you like they do at some fancy restaurants.
Of course, the very best thing about Palazzo is the food!!! Everything is really awesome, from the bread to the coffee (my mom makes me order decaf) and everything in between!! To start, we ordered the Palazzo salad. It consists of mixed greens, tomatoes, and nuts with balsamic vinaigrette. Sounds typical, but their lettuce and tomatoes are really fresh. Plus they have fantastic salad dressing that the chefs at Palazzo Loss perfectly – a far cry from Seven Seas bottled Italian or packets of KeLfs Creamy Caesar. My dad also ordered crab cakes as an appetizer for everyone to share, They were really fantastic; they put Ms. Paul’s to shame! I suppose you can get something like that in Maryland, but who goes there?
For my main course, both my mom and I ordered Linguine Scallops. This is linguine pasta with a pesto sauce topped with pine nuts and six huge sea scallops that were crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. Delicious. I finished the entire dish and, even more remarkable, my mom finished hers too. (She usually has to bring home a doggy bag.) My father ordered Veal Saltimbocca that was really scrumptious. My sister’s boyfriend ordered sea bass. He’s from Florida and used to really fresh fish, so he’s a tough critic. He said it was delicious, but I didn’t taste that. My brother had Penne with Vodka Sauce (he tends to keep it simple, sort of a cheese burger and pizza guy) but even he loves the food at Palazzo!
Food experts say that good food creates good conversation and I can assure you that at Palazzo the conversation will be great. If you ever need a place to go for a special family dinner, Palazzo is the one. I keep asking my mom to make food like this at home, but she says you can only get food that good at Palazzo!”

July, 2008

“Subdued lighting, gently flickering candles and soaring classical music in the background set the stage recently for a delightful evening of fine dining at Montclair’s Palazzo, where faux-finished walls, stunning artwork and beautifully rendered, hand-painted wall flowers add up to one of the handsomest interiors in the area.
The conciseness and quality of Executive Chef/Owner John Giglio’s menu are admirable, with creations ranging from regional American to Italian-infused continental that deftly combine familiar ingredients in imaginative ways.
For instance, our Maryland Crab Cakes, $10, crusty on the outside and bursting with flavor with in, were delicious on their own, but perfectly complemented by a piquant creamy ginger and sesame dressing and organic greens accompaniment.
Ideal for the summer were two other starters: the $10 Caprese, thinly sliced fresh mozzarella with imported prosciutto, roasted red peppers and Bermuda onions; and the $6 Gazpacho, served with a shrimp and tomato salsa -a faultless rendering of this refreshing chilled summer soup.
Anyone who loves risotto knows that it can be devilishly tricky to get right; cooked incorrectly it becomes a glutinous mess. But not to worry at Palazzo, where the risotto, made with Pecorino Romano cheese and cream and tossed with garden vegetables and a touch of saffron, is top-notch. The risotto works perfectly both as a vegetarian entree, priced at $17, and as a complement to the elegant pan-roasted Chilean Sea Bass, $25, with its lemon-caper white wine sauce-a delicate, moist and flaky offering.
Seafood lovers alert: One of Palazzo’s signature dishes is the colorful Linguini alla Nostra, homemade black squid-ink linguini with shrimp, clams, mussels and calamari, served in a fresh, light marinara sauce that never overpowered the Succulent seafood. We were glad we saved some of the crusty bread served earlier, perfect now for dipping.
Meat-and-potato lovers will appreciate the thick and tender New Zealand lamb chops, $28-meaty morsels packed with flavor, served with a port wine sauce, sauteed spinach and a prettily piped pinnacle of garlic mashed potatoes, humorously topped with a sprig of mint.
Palazzo offers an appealing variety of homemade desserts, from tiramisu and carrot cake to apple tarts and cheesecake. My guest’s creme brulee was excellent, but I snapped tip the unusual and hard-to-find Semi-freddo, $6, a frozen melange of lady fingers, Italian meringue, Chantilly cream and chopped walnuts, lightly drizzled with chocolate and caramel. So long, diet, but oh, so worth it.
Although guests are welcome to bring their own wine, Palazzo is able to offer a full array of New Jersey wines, champagnes and ports through an arrangement with a licensed state wine-maker.
Thursdays through Saturdays at Palazzo are jazz nights, when you can savor your dinner to the accompaniment of the evening’s combo.”

Continental Food – With a Vision / September 2004

Palazzo’s menu tempts diners with dishes ranging from regional American to Italian-infused continental cuisine.
With its burnished dark wood floors, classy minimalist interior and high-quality, well-rounded menu, Montclair’s Palazzo restaurant visually transports visitors out of the suburbs and into the exciting neighborhood restaurants of Manhattan’s East and West Village. But come back to earth (and to Montclair) by nabbing a seat by the windows and watching the world go by as shoppers and strollers pass you by on South Fullerton Avenue.
Executive Chef and Owner John Giglio has created a lovely menu for his restaurant with dishes ranging from regional American to Italian-infused continental. A special, our $7 San Francisco Crab Soup starter, with its light tomato based seafood broth, transported us back to Fisherman’s Wharf, while an appealing $10 Grilled Saffron Polenta, served with broccoli rabe and hot cherry peppers with a devilishly wicked bite, added a lively combination of colors and tastes.
A deep breath, a small interlude with a sip of wine, and we grazed on with the $8 Rusticana Salad of mixed organic greens, gorgonzola cheese, raisins, walnuts and tomatoes in a balsamic vinaigrette, guaranteed to convert even the most blase of salad eaters to a Rusticana fan.
Pasta entrees are plentiful and sure to please both traditionalists and those willing to embark on a trip to pasta adventureland. Counting ourselves among the latter, we chose, from the specials, an outstanding Chicken and Wild Mushroom ravioli, served with asparagus and tossed in a roasted garlic and oil sauce. Priced at $18, the ravioli were perfectly al dente, packed with flavor and a definite hit.
Linguine alIa Nostra, an $18 Palazzo signature dish, is a colorful melange of homemade squid-ink black linguine with shrimp, clams, mussels and calamari in a marinara sauce.
Although I’ve never quite caught the craze for black linguine, the seafood was plentiful and succulent. The meat-and-potatoes school , will appreciate the $26 Baby Lamb Chops, grilled with Madeira wine sauce and served with sauteed spinach and garlic mashed potatoes-beautifully done, fork tender and artistically presented.
Chef Giglio offers some unusual off-menu specials every evening, and one of the more intriguing on the night of our visIt was bison served with wild rice and broccoli rabe and cranberry sauce. Unfortunately, we ran out of steam, but the diners at a nearby table seemed to be enjoying the dish immensely.
Desserts at Palazzo, priced at $6, all looked mighty good, but we decided on a New York Style Cheesecake and a dense, rich, dark and velvety chocolate (of course) souffle, served warm and topped with a scoop of vanilla gelato. The delicate little spoon that comes with the dish makes you feel that the souffle will last forever. If it were only so.
Although guests are welcome to bring their own wine, Palazzo is able to offer a full array of New Jersey wines, champagnes and ports through an arrangement with a licensed New Jersey wine maker.
Friday and Saturdays are jazz nights, when you can enjoy some of the evening’s combo right from your table or from a front-row seat at the cozy bar that sits under a grouping of Moroccan-style lamps.

March, 2002

“She calls it “today’s Italian with a twist” and no, my friend isn’t ordering a trendy cocktail. What she is doing is giving me her impression of the menu at Palazzo, a, fine restaurant on Montclair’s South Fullerton Avenue.
No argument here. The food, skillfully prepared by executive chef and new owner John Giglio, is worth the visit. His menu presents fresh interpretations of Italian standards along with bold forays into world cuisine. And it’s served in an atmosphere that is either quietly soothing or, particularly on Thursday through Saturday’s jazz nights, extroverted and exuberant.
As soon as you walk in Palazzo, you realize this is not your grandparents’ Italian restaurant. A short, attractive oak bar offers ringside seats at a baby grand piano, arabesque ceiling lamps contribute a muted ruby hue to the soft lighting, and dark wood floors add to the approximately 100-seat room’s relaxing mood.
Palazzo’s staff does a standup job maintaining the comfort level. Waiters are quick to uncork BYO bottles or suggest a glass of wine from the restaurant’s exclusively Garden State list.
You’ll find Palazzo offers a solid range of traditional starters. A soulful bowl of lentil soup, found on the specials menu, does complete justice to the Mediterranean standby ($5.00). Walnuts and raisins lend a nice touch to a refreshing rusticana salad of baby greens, gorgonzola cheese and tomatoes ($8.00). And Chef Giglio adds a twist to the classic calamari fritti ($9.00) by giving the squid a cornmeal coat before frying. The dish’s coup de grace, though, is Giglio’s rich, chunky marinara sauce that’s neither too sweet nor too tart for this wonderful dish’s gentle crunch.
The menu also has two appetizers inspired by Asian cuisine. Exhibit A is a pair of yummy Maryland crab cakes, stuffed with a mix of ground zucchini, squash, celery flowers, crabmeat, mustard, red pepper, and served in a ginger sesame dressing ($9.00), The condiment makes an appearance on the specials menu with Giglios delicious sushi–ten round pieces of perfect tuna given the right amount of peppercorn-crust jump. Don’t miss this ten-dollar opener.
Palazzo’s well-prepared entrees provide a delightful second act to its light, satisfying openers. The main events showcase Giglio’s skill with pasta and his passion for contemporary Italian cooking style. One winning choice is Linguine alla Nostra ($17.00). Here, thin, homemade squid ink-black noodles form a delicious bed for a treasure of clams, mussels, calamari and juicy shrimp. A judicious amount of marinara sauce gives this seafood dish the right fruity counterpoint.
On the recommendation of the staff, we tried another homemade pasta, the Fusili Nicolette ($17.00). These thick, long pasta strips, mixed with earthy mushrooms, jumbo shrimp, spinach and a sun-kissed tomato sauce, create an intriguing flavor that was fun to try and pin down. We never did guess the ingredient pulling the ensemble together was clam juice-an inspired touch.
Giglio’s leading culinary aria is risotto. His version of the Italian rice classic on the specials menu, with smoked salmon and asparagus, provides a textbook model of how risotto should be made ($18.00). Each bite of the dish’s al dente character, saffron fragrance and smooth consistency (thanks to a touch of cream) is like an elegant taste of Milan. Bravo!
Palazzo’s specials also include a ravioli dish of the day, and if your choice tastes like ours, a mixed seafood and sundried tomato ravioli, count on being well fed, Our squares, filled with chopped monkfish, shrimp, salmon, cheese, the tomatoes and a few breadcrumbs, were wonderful. A garlic and oil sauce, artichoke hearts and roasted peppers bring good Italianate flavor to this seventeen-dollar item.
The restaurant’s meat and seafood entrees mainly feature dishes that don’t stray from the classical. A cheerful, southern Italian touch suffuses poultry dishes such as the eggplant, prosciutto and spinach-layered Pollo Sorrento ($15.00). Fish specials, along the lines of pan roasted Atlantic salmon with nuts, herbs and light breadcrumbs ($22.00), are consistently available. And scallopini fans will enjoy Giglio’s Veal Palazzo ($16.00), pounded into a pleasingly soft texture, sautéed with artichoke hearts and sundried tomatoes, and finished with Madeira sauce.
I can’t leave an Italian dinner without having dessert. Palazzo’s final act includes a creamy creme brulee ($6.00) that I was shameless enough to finish with my fingers. And you’ll have fun sharing a chocolate soufflé–a warm, semi-sweet, cake-textured chocolate surrounding a scoop of vanilla gelato ($6.00).”

February 22, 2002

“Palazzo is an absolute delight The atmosphere is stylish and sophisticated yet warm and relaxed, with lots of natural wood, fabrics of rich gold and royal blue, classic art on the walls, and crisp linens on the tables. A wine bar and a baby grand – played on weekends by a jazz pianist – are just inside the door, welcoming sights that say “Yes, you made an excellent choice for your dining plans this evening.”
Chef John Giglio, who added “owner” to his title just two months ago, has been in the Palazzo kitchen for three years. When he purchased the restaurant, he kept everything the same, except for hanging an “Under New Management” banner over the front door.
Prices are moderate, and quality is high. Portions are the perfect size: just enough so that you can comfortably clear your plate. And trust me, you’ll want to clear your plate.
Especially if you’re lucky enough to dine on an evening when spinach ravioli in Gorgonzola sauce ($17) is on the specials list Handmade pasta pillows filled with exquisitely fresh spinach are dressed with a bold blue cheese sauce. This is not a subtle dish; if you truly love Gorgonzola, prepare to be enraptured.
There were many such “sop up that sauce” moments at Palazzo. Giglio graciously provides crisp garlic bread with the steamed mussels appetizer ($9). Tiny, tender, and impeccably clean, the mussels are presented with a saffron-kissed, bisquelike sauce far too delicious to leave behind.
Speaking of bisque, shrimp bisque ($7) was soup of the day on one of our visits, and we couldn’t resist It was perfect: just creamy enough to be called silky, rich with flavor and beautifully seasoned, with a generous helping of tender, diced shrimp. Another reason to -reach for the bread.
I love the toothsome texture of homemade pasta, and this is definitely one of Giglio’s strong suits. Fusilli Nicolette ($17) starred long ropes of flavorful pasta dressed with a lovely, crushed tomato sauce, spinach, sliced mushrooms, and four jumbo shrimp, perfectly cooked.
Everything on the plate screamed “Fresh!” This was an excellent entree.
I also enjoyed veal Palazzo ($17), three supple cutlets drenched in, a rich Madeira sauce along with artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes. On the side of the plate, sautéed fresh veggies and a delightful surprise: a trompe l’oeil baked potato that turned out to be a delicious mashed potato croquette.
That wasn’t the only delightful surprise at Palazzo. On our Friday visit a complimentary amuse bouche preceded the meal: a tasty bite of fried cod nestled in an endive leaf with a dollop of creamy remoulade.
Another surprise came a moment later, as we learned that Palazzo has a license to serve only wine, not beer or hard liquor. A short list of recommended wines by the bottle or the glass is well-balanced and well-priced.
Giglio does not shy away from creativity. An appetizer of tasty mini-Maryland crab cakes ($9) has an Asian attitude thanks to a generous jolt of ginger in the dipping sauce. He also features exotic meats: One night kangaroo was on the specials list.
In the game category, I tried the venison osso buco ($24), which fell short of the traditional version. Though the tiny diced vegetables were nearly liquefied by the extended stewing, the meat did not nearly achieve fall-off-the-bone tenderness. The gravy was on the bitter side, and the mashed potatoes were disappointing pointingly thin. This was the only dish that really missed the mark for me at Palazzo.
Well, I did have one other moment of wistful wishing, while eating the arugula salad with goat cheese and Bermuda onion ($6). But that wish was for just an ounce more of the sublime walnut vinaigrette that had been so sparingly applied- The greens were perfect the goat cheese creamy and tangy, and the sweet onions were shaved paper-thin and mixed with marinated diced tomatoes.
At meal’s end, coffee was lukewarm, while the cappuccino was scalding hot. Once it cooled enough to drink, it was a tasty treat.
Desserts were good, but one was great: the classic crème brulée. It’s been a while since I’ve had one so perfectly executed. Smooth, creamy custard, rich with vanilla flavor, was still cool beneath the whisper-thin, freshly burnt sugar shell- It was a heavenly ending to a very enjoyable meal.”
40 Essex Fells Magazine April April Essex Fells Magazine 41
In February, Essex Fells residents went to
Palazzo Restaurant in Montclair for what
can only be described as an amazing dinner!
Palazzo is one of those gems of a restaurant
that you want to keep in your regular
rotation of places to dine regardless of
occasion. Palazzo is conveniently located
on South Fullerton Avenue in Montclair.
Parking is never a problem as you have a
choice of ample street parking or in the
adjacent parking garage. Most importantly
the food is terrific. Each dish that was presented
awed me and the other attendees.
In fact, during our post-meal discussion
we struggled to decide our favorites.
In attendance for the tasting were Frank
Godlewski, Bonnie Post, Paul Robinson,
Janet Oscar, Rick Oscar, Kamni Marsh,
Bud Endress, Dennis Jankowski, Monika
Piekarus and myself. I must state that
every aspect of our experience was wonderful.
We started out with appetizers,
which included a grilled octopus salad,
zucchini fritti, and mussels (Prince
Edward Island Mussels steamed with
garlic, herbs, and a touch of marinara
sauce with toasted baguettes). Bonnie
Post shared, “I’m very picky about mussels
and these were great.” We fell in love
with one of their most popular appetizers,
the calamari balsamico (lightly fried
squid rings tossed with a balsamic reduction
topped with Roma tomatoes and
green scallions). We enjoyed their homemade
focaccia bread, which was served
nice and toasty. While there are many
healthy options to pick from, the one we
enjoyed most was the winter salad (kale,
candied beets, fennel, and radishes tossed
with lemon and roasted garlic vinaigrette,
and topped with gorgonzola cheese and
sunflower seeds). Another must try was
the shrimp and asparagus risotto. It was
“melt in your mouth” good and worthy
as a main dish in itself. Needless to say,
everything was completely devoured during
the tasting. The rigatoni Bolognese,
which was made with ground beef, veal,
and pork, was delicious. We enjoyed an
amazing ahi tuna dish that was light and
fresh. We thought we were done until
the chef treated us to his braised short
ribs. “These ribs were one of the best I
have ever had,” Rick Oscar agreed sharing,
“The short ribs were tender
and delicious.”
Palazzo offers California wines for purchase,
however if you would like to bring
your own wine you may do so as well. Every
Friday and Saturday evening they have
live music which is usually either a professional
pianist or horn player. Did I forget to
mention that there is a piano in the center
of the restaurant? It is just beautiful. The
establishment is sophisticated and classy
but comfortable at the same time. Resident
Frank Godlewski shared so eloquently that
his evening at Palazzo was, “One of those
unforgettable pleasant evenings with a
gracious and attentive server (Candy), old
friends, and great food that it made me feel
like I was back in Italy.” Our evening was so
much fun that we ended up staying late and
enjoying their decadent cappuccinos and
assortment of teas while we talked.
John Giglio is not only the owner of
Palazzo Restaurant, but he is the executive
chef as well. John was attentive and
visited our table several times to make
sure everything was to our liking. When
we asked about other services provided
by Palazzo, John told us that they host
private parties and occasions at the restaurant
which can hold up to 110 people.
John also shared that they have a variety
of entrees available for catering and even
barbeques. From hot trays and platters
to salads and sandwiches, he has it all.
For those in need, he offers gluten free
options as well. If you are near or in
Montclair for lunch keep in mind that
Palazzo has a special $10 lunch. You can
pick ½ a wrap or small pasta with your
choice of soup or Palazzo salad.
If you have any questions about our experience
at Palazzo’s please feel free to ask
any of us who attended this outstanding
restaurant review. When Janet Oscar said
that, “Everything was delicious, I will
definitely come back,” all of us agreed. A
visit to Palazzo’s is a must! I cannot recommend
it highly enough.
DISCLAIMER: The business reviewed in this section
provided products and/or services free of charge in
exchange for this review.
Palazzo Restaurant
11 South Fullerton Avenue
Montclair, NJ 07042
Lunch: Monday-Friday from 11:30AM-3:00PM & Saturday from 11:30AM-4:00PM
Dinner: Monday–Thursday from 5:00PM-9:30PM, Friday & Saturday from 5:00PM-10:30PM,
& Sunday from 2:00PM-9:00PM
Review Written by Christine DiGiovanni
Photos by John Paul Endress