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Grato - West Palm - Clay Conley

jon777 | Jan 20, 201609:28 AM     4

Made it to Groto, Clay Conley's new WPB outpost on Friday night. As hoped, it was excellent -- just what you'd expect given Conley's other places.

Reservations are available through Open Table. Snagged in 8:30 PM (4 people) about 10 days in advance. Prime time (6-8) was full -- the news is definitely out there. Got there at 8 to have a drink and the bar was packed. About 10 wines and 6 beers on draft. A couple of specialty cocktails, but I think wine is probably the way to go here.

Space is modern and cavernous -- very open and very loud. The feel and crowd were definitely upscale casual. If you don't like loud restaurants, stay away. Don't expect white tablecloths or anything too fancy.

Wine list was fairly small -- about 30 bottles each of red and white -- surprisingly more California than Italy -- would have liked to have seen more offering in the $30-$45 price point from Italy -- there are plenty of great "pizza wines" out there that could add to the list.

Food was excellent. Ordered family style. For appetizers, Mushrooms over a creamy polenta was rich and earthy. A big hit. Meatballs were flavored heavily (in a good way!) with sausage -- great texture as well -- tender but not mushy. Florida clams in a spicy red sauce were fine but nothing to write home about -- they were fine, but not special.

Pastas were special, as you'd expect given Buccan. The Carbonara was the star out of the two pasta dishes. Perfectly al-dente (if you don't like al-dente pasta you are at the wrong place), rich and wonderful. The Sunday gravy was very good as well -- a very nice version, with again well cooked pasta, and while very good, didn't wow me the same way as the carobonara (probably because I've had lots of good versions of Sunday gravy over the years...)

A pizza was the finale -- Sausage and Broccoli Rabe -- spicy, bitter and wish a crust that was the perfect combination of chewy and crunchy.

Definitely will be headed back to try more!

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