My wife and I spent last week in the Triangle looking for a house. We followed Chowhound advice to the letter and were not sorry for it. Our bill of fare sample was as follows:
Allan and Sons
Parker's (in Wilson)
Hong Kong Rest. (for dim sum)
Sal's (for pizza)
True to reputation, Allan and Sons offered excellent barbecue, but the helpings (cole slaw, hush puppies, and dessert) were run-of-the-mill, and the price was surprisngly stiff. If I had to pick between Allan and Sons, Parker's, and Bullock's, I would opt for the latter on grounds of well-roundedness and price, though of course the atmosphere at Allan and Sons is hard to resist. Having made many previous trips to NC and done a lot of concerted tasting, I am now prepared to announce a favorite: Bob Melton's (can't remember where it's located). My prize for undeserved reputation goes to B's in Greenville.
Greenville, by the way, is the ultimate food waste land (my mom lives there). Not a good meal to be had in the entire city. The local "nice" restaurants -- Mesh's and Chef 505 -- are a joke.
Hong Kong Restaurant was a mixed bag. Some of the dishes were first rate (like the taro cake), but most were so-so at best, and a few were down-right bad (like the steamed pork bun). I hate to say it, but we get far, far better dim sum here in Minneapolis. I suppose once you become familiar with the place you could eat around the weak offerings and have a decent meal.
Sal's was a nice surprise -- acceptable NY-style pizza at a rock-bottom price and good eggplant parm, but the point made by Jessica below is well taken: the sauce with the spaghetti side IS reminiscent of Chef Boyardee. Not much excuse for such lousy sauce in what is after all a red sauce joint.
Il Palio was indeed good, but not, I think, quite as excellent as billed. I had a superb appetizer of cured duck breast with a mushroom timable; an overly salty and busy second course of lamb-stuffed pansotti; a rather blunt and heavy osso bucco with equally blunt risotto; and two excellent desserts: a brioche bread pudding and a flourless chocolate bomb with blood-orange sauce. Only the appetizer and desserts really impressed me. I thought also that the decor was mediocre -- the place looks a lot cheaper than it is. In short, an interesting and ambitious Italian restaurant, but not "the best in the U.S." as some have claimed here and elsewhere.
Magnolia Grill awaits!