Alfresco in January

Photo by: Michael Chavarria

While the rest of the country struggles with ice storms, snow drifts and slush, we in Southern California have a slightly different take on life.

With the weather at 82 degrees and not a cloud in sight, my Wife and I decided to be a little hedonistic and have a quick lunch on the patio at Palumbo’s in Old Town Temecula. This is actually one of our favored spots in Temecula, when our schedules mesh, which is rare.

With only an hour to spend, we had to forgo appetizers and dessert, however we have had many on other visits, by far our favorite is the Antipasto platter. It is a generous size and can be shared with four, with the inevitable fighting over everyone’s favorites, great way to start the meal.

All dinners are presented with a basket of warm herbed focaccia with olive oil, Balsamic vinegar and Parmesan. If you are getting a pasta, save your bread to clean your plate!

Lunch comes with the daily soup—which is always excellent—or a garden salad, which is rather pedestrian. With three markets within easy walking distance, I would not envision any difficulty in creating a salad, right from the garden.

Photo by: Michael Chavarria

The entrees were an eggplant sandwich and ravioli in marina sauce. The eggplant sandwich looked fantastic. The eggplant was grilled then baked, an interesting technique that gave a great taste and texture. The sandwich was served on a extraordinary baguette, definitely not the wimpy bread that every other establishment seem to prefer.

The raviolis were the ultimate in simple, yet great food. Hand-made, served with a marinara, add some Parmesan and olive oil and watch them disappear.

The wine list is limited, featuring a decent selection of local wines, concentrating on Italian varietals. There are also a few other selections. Their house wines have been chosen carefully, and represent a very good value. Overall it’s a small selection, but it has been well-chosen, best of all, a second bottle is not going to break the bank. We drank the house Pinot Grigio, and it was fine for our quick lunch.

There is nothing at Palumbo’s that is earth-shattering or revolutionary, simple food, most of it prepared by hand from scratch, cooked well, and presented simply. Dining here is like settling into an easy chair with your favorite pair of slippers. You know what to expect, and are comfortable ordering anything off the menu, knowing it will all be prepared to the same quality.

Open Tuesday – Sunday, lunch and dinner. Reservations recommended on weekends. palumbosristorante.com (951) 699-7925

Article by Crispin Courtenay

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