- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 4, 2017


The Palm may be D.C.’s most iconic spot for a power lunch. Since 1926 politicians, power-brokers change-makers, journalists, the elite, the locals and the intrepid visitors intent on finding the cuisine for which the capital has become lauded have come to this singular Italian spot in Northwest to break bread and enjoy recipes that Pio Bozzi and John Ganzi brought over from the Old Country. From such humble beginnings in New York, The Palm has expanded to over 20 locations — and nowhere but here in the District can you dine while bumping elbows with so many legislators and those working behind the scenes to keep the gears of statehood continuously running.

Sitting down with my friend and business associate Allison amid the lunch rush, we are greeted by our server, John, who is celebrating 31 — yes, 31 [ITAL] — years working at The Palm. For those of you who have never worked in a restaurant, this industry boasts one of the highest turnovers in any profession. (I’ve worked at three restaurants in my life, averaging but a few months employment at each.) John is all smiles, does not seem hurried in any way, and discusses how he began as a trainee, and that most of the servers in the 1980s had likewise been employed here for years. Much as in a professional orchestra, the spots almost never turn over, so when a seat on The Palm’s wait staff opened, John jumped at it and hasn’t looked back.

John verses us in the history of The Palm, and he knows the menu backwards, forwards and, I suspect, blindfolded if the occasion called. John also discusses the many caricatures on the walls of entertainers, politicians and other notables who have dined here over the decades — many long since departed from this mortal coil.

As Allison and I are both mad for oysters, we must start out with the Quonnie Rock on the half shell from Rhode Island, which absolutely do not disappoint. Seconds are a must.

Then it’s on to the “3 Course Power Lunch,” which offers soup or salad, main and dessert for a rather reasonable sum. Continuing in a seafood vein, I go in for the lobster bisque, which has me internally yelping “Yes, yes, yes!” much like Meg Ryan in “When Harry Met Sally.” Allison, no less satisfied but much more mannered, enjoys the caesar salad, which, when she allows me to sample, gives the bisque a good run for its money on my palate.

Time for the main course. Keeping up the seafood motif, the Atlantic salmon fillet encrusted with special spices absolutely lights up my soul at the first bite. Allison thankfully allows me to try out her steak, which is succulent and prepped to the medium perfection she requested. The spinach side complements both the fish and the steak wonderfully.

Dessert? Why, yes, please! The Palm brings in cheesecake from Junior’s in New York daily, and if I close my eyes, I can imagine the sounds of Midtown not far off (though not Times Square, because no one should ever go there ever). The chocolate peanut butter confection conquers even this chocoholic, and thus some will likely have to go with me to the office for “dinner.”

Thoroughly satiated, we shake hands with John, who invites us to return again. (If you see him, tell him The Times sent you.)

Washington, D.C., is only recently getting its fair due as one of the nation’s epicurean epicenters, and with The Palm as a main anchor in the District’s power lunch scene, the wattage of the capital will only continue to rise.

The Palm is located at 1225 19th Street, NW, Washington, D.C., 20036. Call 202/293-9091 or visit ThePalm.com/Washington-DC.

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