Palumbo’s Ristorante Combines Tradition with Creativity By Susan Montgomery
When Paul and Edy Palumbo founded Palumbo’s Ristorante in Old Town Temecula 12 years ago, they did it with passion, a love of traditional Italian cuisine, and a commitment to providing guests with a delicious, relaxing dining experience. Their success throughout the last decade and beyond is a tribute to their dedication to excellence. Now a talented chef, Ramone Garcia, has come on board to make an already great restaurant even better. Recently we talked with Edy, Paul and Ramone about their plans for the future and we also tasted some of Ramone’s delectable new dishes. We learned that Paul’s
father, Franco, and his Uncle Marco were both exceptional chefs who brought their families from Italy to America in the 1960s. After stops in New York and Chicago, the family was attracted to the beautiful city of San Diego. Paul began his culinary journey as a dishwasher at Marco’s restaurant in Coronado. Soon he became the pizza maker and his love of preparing great dishes was launched. He also learned the family’s old recipes and cooking techniques from Marco and Franco. Paul and his father eventually opened Chef Frank’s restaurant in Chula Vista, which thrived for many years and where Paul fine-tuned his skills in making gnocchi and sausage. (Make sure you try Mamma Rosa’s Sausage.) Paul still makes all the sausage served at Palumbo’s Ristorante and I can personally attest that it is wonderful. Paul and Edy met at Chef Frank’s. They soon married and eventually opened their own restaurant in Bonita. After ten successful years, they moved to Temecula Paul and Edy Palumbo and opened Palumbo’s in Old Town where their focus is serving authentic, traditional Italian dishes, many based on recipes passed down through Paul’s family, such as Mama Rosa’s Eggplant Parmigiana. The setting on 5th Street right off of Main Street in Old Town Temecula is perfect and we love their picturesque outdoor patio with its wrought iron tables shaded by an awning. The restaurant has recently added misters for pleasant outdoor summer dining. It’s the ideal place for watching the world go by while enjoying a delicious Italian meal. Inside is also pleasant with a welcoming Italian décor. (My suggestion is to take a sip of Pinot Grigio and close your eyes for a minute. When you open your eyes, you may believe that you’ve been transported to Tuscany.) While other restaurants may blare music in your ears, at Palumbo’s you can sit back and relax to the dulcet background tunes of love and romance, while actually carrying on a conversation. Chef Ramone, who is from Baja and San Diego, has had extensive training and experience. He was trained by five-star Michelin chefs from all over the world. He studied at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa, was Executive Banquet Chef at the famed Mission Inn, Executive Sous Chef at L’Auberge in Del Mar, and recently Chef d’Cuisine at Ponte Vineyard Restaurant in Temecula. He says that he cooks with soul and loves using fresh, local ingredients for his distinctive dishes. While Palumbo Ristorante will always offer guests its popular, traditional favorites, Chef Ramone is adding his own creative dishes so that the menu will be fresh and exciting for customers. The new summer menu has just been released.
Edy points out that much of the restaurant’s produce comes from the local farmer’s market and also from the Palumbos’ own home garden where their bounty includes tomatoes, zucchini, basil and arugula. During our recent visit, we enjoyed some of Chef Ramone’s new dishes, including two beautifully presented, scrumptious salads. The burrata salad with fresh tomatoes was a creamy, refreshing dish and the beet salad was savory and tasty. We also relished an innovative gnocchi dish, which I will definitely order again the next time we visit Palumbo’s. The gnocchi had been seared in brown butter and was served with spring vegetables and Passport Photo of Paul Palumbo’s house-made fennel sausage. We mother & children also tried flavorful meatballs in a rich, zesty tomato sauce. For dessert we loved the luscious tiramisu and lemon cheese cake made by Edy’s sister. Palumbo’s is the perfect restaurant for a romantic getaway or for a family dinner that will please everyone. Friends of ours, Carmen and Richard Micheli, recently
Executive Chef Ramone Garcia makes fresh focaccia bread daily
dined at Palumbo’s with their two young children. Their reaction was no surprise to us. Carmen says, “We are in love with Palumbo’s. The ambiance and customer service were stellar, and the food was amazing. My kids loved the fresh focaccia bread, iced tea, and appealing kids’ menu selections; while my husband and I found the wine list to be exceptional. I especially enjoyed a glass of Italian Primitivo paired with Bruschetta and Manicotti with sautéed spinach. As a Temecula resident for 15 years, I would say they have some of the best Italian food in Temecula!” As an added bonus, Palumbo’s is situated right next door to one of our favorite Temecula shops, the well-known Spice Merchants. The restaurant uses many of their spices and also serves a special Spice Merchant tea daily. Why not do a little spice shopping before or after your meal at Palumbo’s? Palumbo’s Ristorante is open six days a week (not on Mondays) from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m on Tuesdays through Thursdays and Sundays, and until 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Photos by Todd Montgomery.
Traditional Italian home-made meatballs with pasta
New on the Menu – Chef Ramone’s Beet Salad