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Palena Fine Dining
Palena Fine Dining

Palena Fine Dining Details

  • Dining Style: Fine Dining
  • Website: http://www.palenarestaurant.com
  • Phone: (202) 537-9250
  • Hours of Operation: Tuesday - Saturday: 5:30pm - 10:00pm
  • Payment Options: AMEX, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
  • Cuisine: Italian, French
  • Executive Chef: Frank Ruta
  • Dress Code: Smart Casual
  • Accepts Walk-Ins: Yes
  • Additional Details: Banquet/Private Rooms, Farm to Table, Full Bar, High Tea, Personal wines welcome, Personal wines welcome (corkage fee applies), Private Room, Wine
  • Special Events & Promotions: Thank you for considering Palena for your next event!

    We can accommodate a variety of corporate and social gatherings, including private dinners, cocktail receptions, holiday parties, wine dinners and celebratory occasions.

    Please contact our Director of Private Parties and Special Events Nate Keegan at nate@palenarestaurant.com or 202-537-9250.

Getting there

  • Cross Street: Porter St. SW
  • Public Transit: Cleveland Park Metro Stop
  • Parking: Public Lot
A word from Palena Fine Dining
Palena, an authentic Contemporary Italian and French restaurant offering upscale cuisine in its old-world-style Dining Room, is the creation of Frank Ruta, the award-winning former White House chef.

A classic fixture in the Cleveland Park neighborhood, Palena has been serving its seasonal, distinctive cuisine to new and repeat customers for 13 years.Continued
Foodspotting photos
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Awards voted by OpenTable diners
  • Diners' Choice WinnerItalian
  • Diners' Choice WinnerFit for Foodies
Diner Reviews
  • "Excellent meal and service. Very very expensive. Decor pretty boring."
    Dined on 4/8/2014
  • "I really enjoyed the free amuse-bouches, pre-dessert, and post-dessert treats that we hadn't ordered. They added to the evening's special feeling. We were celebrating my birthday and the meal was wonderful. Everything was so tasty and creative, and our waiter was always nearby when we needed him."
    Dined on 4/2/2014
  • "We selected three courses plus desert and were not disappointed. The menu items were prepared to perfection with very well matched ingredients that were allowed to speak for themselves. The wine list was a bit disappointing; the food cries for a selection of character wines from small producers. Instead we got a list with some pedestrian choices, mixed with the usual expensive french wines. However, the service, pacing, environment and most of all, the food made up for it."
    Dined on 3/29/2014
  • "Palena was a great choice for an excellent meal delivered by seasoned professional servers. The evening was complimented by delicious wine suggested by a knowedgeable wine steward. Great Company, excellent food, superior service and delicious wine -- Who could ask for anything more? We'll be back."
    Dined on 3/27/2014
  • "This $100 tasting menu fell short of expectations. No dish was surprising or delicious. Most dishes were at least good, but the pasta dish suffered from too much clove in the sauce, which obliterates every other taste in the dish. The decor is austere. The service was attentive, so no complaint there."
    Dined on 3/26/2014
  • "We were entertaining another couple and we had a wonderful dinner. The food was excellent, although I was surprised when our second course showed up in little bowls????? And the portions were very small. Given that this is an expensive three course dinner, I thought that was very odd...and we've been there before and had regular sized dishes for all courses. Thankfully our guests are small eaters. Appreciated the attentive service and the wine list is very good...just enough options at all different price points. We were there for three hours and enjoyed all of the little extras -- the amuse bouche at the beginning and the truffles and candies at the end. We would definitely come again, but it is an expensive evening."
    Dined on 3/22/2014
  • "We were looking for a "romantic evening," and that is exactly what we got. First we searched for Saturday night but there were no openings. Friday night, however, had 2 seats at 7, and while we dined, there were few other diners. Good for us, but possibly not for the restaurant? The low occupancy added to our enjoyment because of the quiet atmosphere. The lighting level was low, but enough to see. The attention was consistent and at the right times, not at all intrusive. And most important, the food was excellent, everything beautifully prepared and delicious. Our only problem of the evening was having to park quite a distance away. This situation might deter us from frequency of visits since we are not near a subway and must drive."
    Dined on 3/7/2014
  • "The pris-fix menu promises more than it delivers. Food quality okay, but not a match for the steep price. Protein focus; go-withs of decorative quantity."
    Dined on 3/7/2014
  • "Had been wanting to go to PFD for months given the excellent Washingtonian and OT reviews. Went with the tasting menu. While most of the items were quite enjoyable, the length of time between each course was too long; the evening seemed interminable at 3 hours. When my wife's entree arrived, she was almost too worn out to enjoy it. The room was full, and we could barely hear each other. The servers were pleasant and polite, but terse, soft spoken, and unenthusiastic about what they served. The venison was very well preparedas was the squab and pate appetizer. the duck was rather tasteless, a pasta dish too salty to be enjoyable, and the gnocchi was rather bland. The desserts were quite nice. So, a mixed evening."
    Dined on 2/28/2014
  • "When food is prepared differently, it's not necessarily better or highly enjoyable. Dishes have familiar names but use highest quality ingredients,& seasonings that enhance not overwhelm the prime ingredient. A slightly more restrained salt shaker (and salty ingredients e.g. anchovies) would make several very good dishes outstanding. Service anticipates needs without being obtrusive or obsequious. The dining room has a high ceiling, normally a quiet space but for background music - although pleasant is slightly too loud. Decor is simple to severe and calls for Gregorian Chant or maybe Monteverdi rather than Ella Fitzgerald. Overall, a mostly positive dining experience, providing good value for the higher cost, and worth future visits."
    Dined on 2/22/2014
  • "This was one of the best experiences I've had at a restaurant in DC. Food was superb (we chose the three course menu). Service was outstanding and unobtrusive, a difficult balance to be sure. The dining area was moderately quiet and allowed us to have a conversation without yelling across a table for two. The large window offered us a view of the evening weather (it was snowing that evening), without having to look at pedestrians going back and forth. All in all, one of the best restaurants we've been to in years."
    Dined on 2/12/2014
  • "First time giving a credit card number to hold a reservation. Beware - cancellation policy was not clear. Palena mentions a fee but never tell you what it is. Parking situation for the restaurant is terrible - no valet.The back room was intimate, quiet, and very dimly lit. We chose the 5 course with the wine pairings. Amuse Bouche was a yummy quiche, followed by garbanzo bean soup - also good. First course was Arctic char - well presented but completely tasteless!!! Needed a small amount of salt - and I don't use much salt. Rest of the meal was good with flashes of great. Wines were a good match with food but did not always arrive with the dish. We paid $450 for two and it was just not worth the price or the parking hassle. Will not return."
    Dined on 2/8/2014
  • "Excellent food. Great ambiance. Quiet enough that you can actually have a conversation. Highly recommend Palena"
    Dined on 2/8/2014
  • "I wasn't sure I would like the prix fixe set-up which, on the six course, menu gave you NO choice of what would be served and on the 4 course gave you some limited choices - but I LOVED it! Turns out that many of the dishes served were things I wouldn't ordinarily have picked for myself, but each was delicious in addition to being a little uniquely creative. The wine list was more limited than I had hoped. I was struggling with what I wanted to order but asked the waiter and, after getting a feel for what I was looking for, recommended a Bordeaux that was one of the least expensive on the menu and turned out to be quite good."
    Dined on 1/25/2014
  • "I brought my mother to Palena for her birthday - it was the first visit for both of us. We chose the three course + dessert option and had a fantastic meal. I could recount how each selection we had was delicious but every description would end with the same verdict -- that the food was fantastic. The service and the recommendations made by the servers were also well-received. I look forward to my next visit to Palena."
    Dined on 1/18/2014
  • "Bar service was very good. The tasting menu was excellent with perfect portions. Started out with a few amuse Bouches that were fantastic. All course were very good and portions perfect except for the Caesar salad. Was excellent flavor but very little lettuce. I would recommend and would return. Why not 5 stars? No wow courses. All were excellent solidly done but none made us go wow. Having said that I would definitely recommend and plan to return."
    Dined on 1/11/2014
  • "We had gone to Rose's Luxury the night before and Palena, while very good, suffers by comparison, Still it's a great dining room with knowledgable servers. Had the 3 course w/wine pairing. Caesar Salad good, not great. Second course I can't remember but it was good and had a duck entree which was the best of the three. All three wine pairing s were great picks. Dessert came with it and the whole shebang was over $300 which included coffee and cocktails. I would go back but not before going back to Rose's."
    Dined on 1/16/2014
  • "This is our favorite restaurant for a long leisurely meal with excellent food and service and quite enough for easy conversation. Unlike many good fixed price restaurants, the portions are reasonable and do not require a gargantuan appetite."
    Dined on 1/14/2014
  • "Went here saturday night and there was clearly some problems with service. Our drink ordered was not taken for 55 mi utes amd we did not receive food for an hour and a half. We ordered the 5 course tasting menu and once the food started coming, it came out rapid fire. The food itself was delicious. The experience was not one I will repeat."
    Dined on 1/11/2014
  • "It was free so we had to try it out. Palena is conveniently next door (it's in the parking lot) a Metro station on the Red Line. The dining part of the Palena complex has a casual bistro section near the bar and the front door, and a more formal section in the downstairs section (no windows). We went on New Years Eve so the food selection was limited but most of the food we had was very well prepared and tasty. The foie gras was gross but it might be someone else's thing to eat a lump of lard. The salads and steaks were very well prepared. Dessert was just ok. As I said, it's worth a try. Seems like a popular place. We won't be back. There is better food and service closer to home. Handling of food allergies was sloppy so be careful."
    Dined on 12/31/2013
  • "The food was fantastic but it took a little time for them to have our table ready and we had a reservation and were punctual."
    Dined on 12/14/2013
  • "Our party of four had a really lovely dinner in Palena's dining room. Everything we ordered from the four course special menu was unusually good. The consommé and the chestnut soups were unusual and delicious; the pasta dishes were superb, especially the Kobocha squash agnolotti; and the lamb, duck and merluzzo (hake) entrees were exceptional with high quality ingredients and imaginative, careful preparation. The service was expert and extremely courteous. The dishes are not large, but we were so satisfied that we couldn't handle dessert, so we each got to take home a box of Palena's remarkable cookies."
    Dined on 12/17/2013
  • "It's a prix-fixe menu, so for our moderately special occasion I had given Palena a heads-up that we don't eat meat and one of us doesn't eat shellfish. The chef had created - and had printed - a special five-course vegetarian menu which was simply marvelous. I found plenty of fish and seafood on the pick-three side of the menu. There were also two amuse-bouches and an extra plate of sweets with the check. The food was eye-opening - some marvelous dishes we'd never imagined such as a dark and dense mushroom flan. The setting was elegant, the service attentive, and the volume alive but not noisy. The only disappointment was that they were out of the wine we wanted, and there were not a lot of choices between the $70 and $300 ranges."
    Dined on 12/14/2013
  • "Way too expensive for the quality of the food and cooking."
    Dined on 11/27/2013
  • "I had made reservation through Open Table and specifically mentioned that we are celebrating my wife's birthday. As indicated in the Open Table confirmation I mentioned to the host at the front that we had made reservation through open table but she said something like "we have our own system". Nothing special was said or offered to my wife. Overall food and service was good. My wife hardly ate the third course so the server told us that he will pack it up. The packed box never arrived!"
    Dined on 11/23/2013
  • "Wonderful food, inventive but not over the top. Great Ingredients were treated respectfully. Good unhurried service. Never fussy or hovering but there when needed. We had a lovely, memorable meal."
    Dined on 11/21/2013
  • "Restaurant was excellent but, in my opinion, there was too much food, even though we topok the smaller prix fixe menu."
    Dined on 11/7/2013
  • "The one restaurant I leave with two thoughts, there is no way I could have made this meal at home, and it was worth the money."
    Dined on 11/2/2013