An overlooked gem of restaurant - DiPalmas
We just returned from a wonderful meal at an often-overlooked restaurant just a bit off the beaten track of 2nd and Market Sts. DiPalmas has been there for years but weve only started going there in the last 18 months or so. The chef/owner, Sal DiPalma seems to advertise in the hotel and tiurist magazines so I overlooked it before. The last few meals were really good but tonights topped them all. I wanted to share our experience.
Its good we didnt plan to go last night because he had a Book & Cook event with the Italian chef from the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas (I dont know these famous chefs names). I was told it was a complete sellout.
DiPalmas is an upper scare Italian restaurant in presentation, décor and service but the prices are really moderate in todays market. The Appetizers are $7.00 to $9.00. We shared a platter of Stuffed Calamari and each of the three was huge. I dont know how one person could eat this as an appetizer. We skipped the pasta course this time (available in half orders as an appetizer). We both wanted the rack of lamb and knew that going in. The entrees are not Italian cooking. Mostly Steaks, Chops, and a neat veal medallion and mushroom dish I had last time. Entrees are $19.00 to $27.00. The steaks are about $22.00. The most expensive item is the Rack. At $27.00. It was HUGE! Really. There were FOUR double chops (Eight bones!) beautifully served over a medley of eggplant, zuchinni and onions. And a great wine sauce. We ended up taking almost half home. Wines by the grass are fairly priced at $7.00 and they actually bring the bottle to the table to show you and pour. We had no room for dessert. I forgot to mention that with the GREAT hard crusty rolls they bring a platter of humus and roasted peppers that is superb. The hostess, Nicole, will fawn all over you.. and the chef, Sal, who was at the James Beard House in NY last month, came out to check on us. (CDs of Enya and Frank Sinatra played while we dined. ) There was no room for dessert or coffee. We were too full. A large party of 10 was arriving as we left. Looked like out-of-towners here on business.
The last time we ate there I signed up for their mailing list. A few days after we dined, I received a thank you note thanking us for dining with them. How many restaurants do that?
I kept thinking about the dinner I had a few weeks back at Sabrinas the casual BYOB on Christian St. and realized that, except for the wine, the meal cost nearly the same. Their entrees were within a dollar or two and the same with appetizers. As we walked up Market St to 2nd (DiPalmas is on Market almost to Front) I realized that its not noticed like many in the area because its just a bit out of the way.
I can only suggest that if you want a well prepared and attractively prepared meal in this price range, try them. I think, like Overtures, its an undiscovered treasure.
We ate there the second night of The Book and The Cook dinner - it was excellent. The highlight was the stuffed gnocchi - stuffed with gorgonzola cheese and covered with a pesto cream sauce -- fabulous! All the other dishes were good as well. We only had a glass of wine as we had to drive to Baltimore (to babysit for our new grandson) immediately after the dinner. It was an excellent meal.
We've eaten at DiPalma's before and liked it very much.