The Pater/Mater familias (aka Dad and Mom), suffering from post-honeybaked ham stress disorder, called me, their favored child-default guest, to fill in for cancelled dinner partners. I agreed, hoping for a local place that could fulfill my craving for Il Capriccio's linguine al mare and comraderie.
Il Palino is at 1021 S. Fair Oaks Blvd. directly next door to the Rialto Theatre (north) -sorry didn't get a business card, but they're listed. Staff greeting at the door was friendly. Openers were a special red bell pepper soup and insalata mista (menu). Portions were quite healthy in size and tasty. Red pepper flavor was zippy, the salad quite vinegary (yum). Mom and I followed with the spaghetti puttanesca; dad with the pollo limone. Puttanesca was good -Mom and I were in salt/brine heaven given the plentiful amount of good Kalamata olives, capers and anchovy paste. The spaghetti was perfect al dente...remarkably toothsome -I was impressed since spaghetti is not my first choice in noodling. Dad's pollo was simple in preparation, tender, and a large portion, but wasn't as dynamic in taste. I guess he wanted the limone to "pop" and it just didn't. (lack of pop didn't seem to affect his ability to finish most of it, while bagging the rest). The desserts are made in-house. Mom and I stole bites of P-f's tiramusu - it satisfied the need, was not overly sweet, but Mater wanted it to have more boozyness to it (go Mom!) The owner must have overheard, and brought us a glass of sparkling Muscat dessert wine -nice touch. Note to readers: The chef likes salt, and vinegar, which works well with my family's DNA, but others might find a bit overwhelming. Everything we had with exception of dessert was salty. The menu lists at least 5 other appetizers, 3 salads, and at least 10 pasta dishes, in addition to main courses and specials which included salmon, a filet mignon in red wine reduction, lamb, and a penne with artichokes, fresh peas, and asparagus that all sounded good. Wine list is okay, with 4 "by-the-glass" specials listed at around $9 each/$35 bottle. Prices range $4-8 for openers, $9-18 for pastas, same for entrees, $7 desserts.
It appears small from the street, and once inside still seems small, tho' there are about 12 tables downstairs tucked into 3 separate rooms along with the kitchen, - one large set up for a family of 12 (all were smiling when we left-good sign) and a loft area with 4 or 5 "twos". Our table, tucked into a desirable corner (with room for 5) was fine until the staff needed to get to the red wine storage cabinet - access required the waiters to scootch around the Mater numerous times- not good. Note to mgmt. No. 1 - move the cabinet or the table, cuz it doesn't work there. Note to mgmt. No. 2. The waitstaff at times tries too hard to be "professional" -tell them to relax, a more casual approach would have been just fine. Note to mgmt. No.3. Get good bread! Notwithstanding these notes, I'd go back to try other pastas, as well as non-pasta dishes, specifically to see how their fish/shellfish is...I don't see it as a destination if you're from out-of-area, but it's a good spot after an indie-movie, to escape Old Town Pasadena, or when the Pater familias calls. It starts to approach what I like about Il Capriccio, and maybe with time will acquire that comfortable "neighborhood" feel to it.
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