These days, it seems like you can’t walk down Halsted in Lincoln Park without being smacked across the face by a restaurant that’s trendier, hipper, or fancier than you. Summer House - smack. Ba Ba Reeba - smack. Stella Barra, Boka, Alinea - smack, smack, smack. Don’t get us wrong, we like these places for a girls night out or impressing out of towners, but sometimes it’s just too much. Sometimes we want simple. Sometimes we want cheap. Sometimes we want a place where we can knock back some house wine, go face first into a pile of meatballs, and bitch about how Uber Pool is the modern day equivalent of a connecting flight. That place is Pasta Palazzo.
Pasta Palazzo feels like you’re eating at your friend’s place. It’s tiny, it’s colorful, and you can watch the chefs make your pasta if you sit at the open-kitchen counter. Daily specials are scribbled across a chalkboard in the corner, and the neighborhood crowd is chatting and clinking Italian wine glasses. It feels like Central Perk with pasta.
The food is simple, fresh, and seriously inexpensive. Most pastas ring in around $10, and adding a protein won’t be more than a few extra bucks. Plus, they offer some healthy alternatives (no butter or cheese) that make it even more practical to make meals here a regular thing.
If you no longer need to impress your significant other because you already wear pimple cream together, or if you’re the kind of person who needs to reduce your spending, Pasta Palazzo fits the bill. It’s perfect for a low-stakes date night or a Bachelor in Paradise marathon on the couch. It’s comfortable and reliable, and won’t smack you or your credit card across the face.
Baked Goat Cheese
Red sauce? Good. Goat cheese? Great. Garlic toast? Let’s do it.
Angel hair pasta with chunky tomatoes, olive oil, and garlic. It’s simple and delicious, and we want more.
Penne with chicken and grilled veggies in a white wine sauce. As far as healthy meals go, it’s not a bad option. But we happen to be big fans of butter and cheese, so we’d steer you elsewhere unless you’re trying to get that tight bod for a wedding or impending crop top occasion.
Gnocchi With Gorgonzola Sauce
These ricotta stuffed dumplings are a crowd pleaser, and we’re partial to the gorgonzola sauce (closely followed by the bolognese).
This is as wild as you’re going to get here. The same gnocchi from above with a creamy red pepper and jalapeno sauce. It’s strange, and we can’t decide if we love it or hate. You’re better off sticking to the classics unless you want to risk feeling as confused as us.
Brown Butter Ravioli
A fall/winter special that we highly recommend you jump on should it pop up on that chalkboard.