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Posted on Thu, Aug 13, 2009 : 5:20 a.m.

Restaurant review: Palio Del Sole offers a pleasant rooftop perch

By Julie Halpert


Editor's note: During the month of August, our weekly restaurant reviews revisit some of Ann Arbor's favorite outdoor dining options.

Whenever I see the throngs of people leisurely dining on the rooftop of Palio Del Sole, an Italian restaurant on Main Street, I wonder if the draw is the charming ambience or the food. I had the chance to find out recently, when I dropped in as part of my summer al fresco dining reviews. I discovered that at Palio’s, the answer is definitely the atmosphere. I must mention that the first time we headed there, the rooftop was closed due to “inclement weather,” though there wasn’t a hint of rain in the forecast, so I’d call ahead before you go.

To get to the rooftop, patrons enter through a separate staircase that leads to a spacious, covered area resembling a restaurant you’d find in a tropical destination. Up high, you’re removed from the street noise and traffic. It’s picturesque and delightful, and servers are friendly and eager to please.

On our recent visit, Palio Del Sole’s fare was adequate, but not outstanding. Our server recommended the asiago al forno, but it was merely a glob of unappealing cheese served with toast. We could have happily munched on the warm, fresh bread instead. Both the insalata verde and Caesare insalata were prepared with fresh greens, but the dressing was bland, lacking sufficient seasoning.

As for the main courses, I was particularly impressed by the pesce bianco con pistachio incrostate: whitefish surrounded by a crunchy crust of pistachios and pine nuts. The creative mix of ingredients lent the right amount of taste and texture to the delicious fish. The beef in the manzo arrostito was bitter, and the roasted potatoes and vegetables were overcooked yet arrived lukewarm. 

If you like sausage, the salsicia con pepperoni is an appropriate choice. It features gigantic sausages that dwarf the penne in the light, uninteresting tomato sauce. The cannelloni di funghi fits the bill for a hearty, rich meal. It was satisfying, with tender pasta, though I could barely detect the garlic or carmelized onions that were advertised on the menu.

The best part of the meal, hands down, was dessert. In addition to the rich, decadent, peanut butter pie, the tiramisu was outstanding, with melt-in-your-mouth cake and a creamy filling. I could have happily munched on this and my frothy cappuccino, and skipped the heavy entrees. In fact, we noticed many fellow diners were content to order light appetizers and drinks as a way of taking in the delightful outdoor surroundings. And I’d recommend that, over ordering a full-course meal, as a way to best enjoy this place.

Palio Del Sole
The Rooftop at 347 South Main
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 5-10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5-11 p.m.; Sunday, 4-9 p.m..
Plastic: Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, Diners Club
Liquor: Yes.
Prices: Moderate to expensive. Most entrees are around $16 and salad is an extra $2.95.
Value: Good. Portions are adequate, but not enormous.
Noise Level: Quiet.
Wheelchair access: No.
Smoking section: No.

Photo by Melanie Maxwell: The scenic rooftop patio of Palio Del Sole.


Somewhat Concerned

Fri, Oct 1, 2010 : 10:32 a.m.

Soggy pasta, gloppy sauce, and all the atmosphere of a mall-based Italian restaurant chain for people brought up on cans of Chef Boy-ar-Dee.


Thu, Aug 13, 2009 : 8:41 a.m.

Always enjoy Palio - my only knock is I wish wine was in a wine glass when outside up on the rooftop. That's petty, but that's the only thing I can think of that I would change. Great food and service.