It’s fitting that Palombo’s Italian Restaurant looks like a converted house. The Jackson Township eatery is warm, cozy and inviting with food that tasted homemade (in a very good way).
The family-run restaurant opened in 1979—brothers Rick and Mark Palombo took over the businesses started by their parents Anthony and Beverly—but its history dates back to the 1880s. Palombo’s was once the Zimber Inn and salon, a neighborhood gathering place in the former town of Marchand.
My husband, Dave, and I visited Palombo’s a couple weeks before Christmas, around 6 p.m. on a Thursday. We were seated quickly in a comfortable corner booth. During our meal, the restaurant steadily filled up with families and, based on snippets of conversations I overhead, plenty of regulars.
Our friendly waiter brought us a basket of soft warm bread while we perused the menu. And we admired the Christmas decorations, including the cute springs of holly wrapped around the lights above our booth.
At a friend’s suggestion, we started with crab cakes ($10). I love crab cakes, but it’s a dish that easily can go wrong. These did not disappoint. The two generous cakes were creamy and rich with plenty of lump crab and not much filler. The lemon dill sauce added a great zing.
We also ordered calamari ($7.50), one of Dave’s favorites. The deep-fried rings were crispy with none of the rubbery texture that can come with squid. The marinara sauce was great for dipping and made me wish I’d ordered a pasta dish so I could enjoy more of it.
Both appetizers benefited from a shake of salt and a squeeze of the lemons served alongside. The citrus added a much-needed brightness, especially to the fried calamari.
The menu is a great mix of seafood, pasta and other Italian favorites.
I opted for the broiled Boston scrod ($15). The menu boasts that it’s the “#1 selling dish.” And for good reason. The white fish is flaky, moist and packed with flavor from the garlic butter and generous coating of seasonings. The fish is served sitting in the aforementioned butter, and its greasy appearance is a little off-putting, but I forgot all about that the minute I took a bite.
My side of grilled veggies—a mix of broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, carrots and green pepper—was perfectly charred. I highly recommend them.
Dave went for the roasted garlic chicken ($13.50), a boneless chicken breast served over ziti coated with a garlic, Parmigiano-Reggiano Alfredo sauce. The sauce was definitely garlicky and cheesy, and the pasta was cooked perfectly, but the chicken needed a bit more seasoning.
Our meals came with a choice of soup or salad. I picked the salad with a side of white French dressing. The salad was your typical side salad—lettuce with a few carrot slivers and a cherry tomato—but the dressing was excellent.
Dave’s wedding soup was full of miniature meatballs in a chicken broth with spinach, Romano cheese and egg. It was delicious, and I’d definitely order it next time.
Portion sizes here are generous without being overwhelming. Come with a big appetite or be prepared to take home leftovers.
Palombo’s is at 4100 Portage Street NW in Jackson Township. The restaurant is open 11 a.m. to midnight Monday through Wednesday and 11 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. The kitchen closes at 10 p.m. For information, or to make reservations, call 330-497-1815 or visit palombositalianrestaurant.com.