palena / palena cafe was my third stop on a tour of some of the western red line's more memorable eateries, and it was here that i stopped intent on ordering an entree. but, as it's hard to judge how much you like some place based off only one dish, i ordered a little bit more than that. i sat at the bar of the cafe portion of the restaurant, and though it's more casual than palena, even palena cafe is intimate. the staff is seriously knowledgable, and i got great advice from the bartender. i think there probably are not many places in dc both as accessible and reasonably priced for this quality of food: palena is literally outside the cleveland park metro, and in the cafe at least, prices are shockingly reasonable.
one of the bartender's favorites, the provolone sule legno: provolone piccante baked on a cedar plank with toasted bread and local honey.
(so simple...yet so good. and so perfectly salty and sweet.)
yukon gold potato gnocchi "bolognese": pork, veal, and lamb ragu with creamy goat cheese.
so in their review, washingtonian hyped palena up as having "the area's best gnocchi". i was skeptical. but HOLY HELL. they were not kidding. even a little. it's pillowy and perfect. if you visit, order it. even if it means you order two entrees. not kidding. get it. it's BY FAR the best i've ever had.