Thursday, September 21, 2017

Palladio Trattoria: A Breath of Fresh Air in the Local Italian Scene

palladio trattoria storefront

“naplesPalladio Trattoria, has only been open since May 13, 2016, and already some of its dishes are considered favorites among  Southwest Florida Italian restaurants.

After savoring robust sauces, flavorful al dente pastas, meat lasagna and desserts, my table of eight Italian food lovers were wowed with most dishes. Be prepared to fall in love with the Vicenza centered cuisine and wines!

The Northern Italian UNESCO city of Vicenza was home to the restaurant’s namesake, the famed 16th Century architect, Palladio. Vicenza is also the cultural home of executive chef/owner Emanuela “Emma”  Calcara, who later completed her training at Los Angeles’ Le Cordon Bleu, and fed top rock bands and lesser mortals over the next 16 years.

Chef Emma has now set down roots in Bonita Springs as the owner/chef  of Palladio Trattoria.

Located on U.S 41, a few blocks south of Bonita Beach Road at the previous site of Anthony’s Trattoria, then Fabio Trattoria,  this spot has awaited  a chef with cooking chops and staying power.

The large gold, red and black dining room is nicely broken up by dividers into comfortable sections. My group was barely seated, when several baskets of crisp, freshly baked sliced bread, and dishes with baked garlic, olive oil and balsamic vinegar and luscious large olives were set before us.

chef emma from palladio trattoria
Chef Emma Calcara. Photo by Ivan Seligman.

Wines come from Italy’s Vicenza, Veneto, Abruzzo, Umbria, and Siena regions, with mixed selections from Chile, California and New Zealand. The price points are friendly with glasses starting at $6.50, and many bottles at a comfortable $24, ranging up to a $36 Super Tuscan, with a few Amarone and others just above  $100, as may be expected. There’s also a full bar.

The menu has a few dozen selections ranging from appetizers like burrata with pistachio and sun-dried tomatoes and crostini, cioppino, and salads, pastas,  meats, seafood, pizzas and a good selection of desserts.

Bucatini all’Amatriciana ($18) more than pleased my palate! Flavorful guanciale is paired with bucatini, the hollow spaghetti-type pasta. Cooked in the traditional style of the town of Amatrice, it features a zesty tomato sauce with chunks of tangy tomato, onion, garlic, peppers and grated pecorino cheese. Chef Emma works her magic; it all comes together in a succulent symphony!

Grilled octopus salad with borlotti beans ($15) is refreshing with a dash of limoncello vinaigrette, that nicely contrasts with the plump red-streaked  beans’ subtle sweet flavor.

The spaghetti carbonara ($16) adds cream to its pancetta, egg and Parmiggiano. While some purists did not feel it to be in the traditional style; it will please you if your palate prefers the creamy style.  Same goes for Palladio’s pizza; try it and see if you become a Palladio’s pizza lover.

My group’s absolute favorite is the Pasticcia alla Veneta ($17). This Northern Italian style meat lasagna is wonderfully rich, featuring thicker layers of meat and whole tomato sauce than pasta layers. Next visit, I’m getting an order of this just to take home. Pappardelle al Ragu ($16) and veal scaloppine ($26) are also Palladio must haves!

Cap a wonderful evening with house made tiramisu, zabaglione with fresh berries, sorbetto al limone, or “adult” milk and cookies.

Chef Emma visits each table; she is quite warm and personable. Ask her to pull up a chair; you may learn more about her growing up watching her parents in the kitchen, or her high-energy career with rock stars and celebrities like Barbara Streisand and Aerosmith!

Tenor Maurice  LoMonaco and  soprano Deborah Marino wowed guests at the Father’s Day dinner and show.  Future live music on the stage may soon fill the house!


Palladio Trattoria

28340 Trails Edge Blvd

Bonita Springs, FL

Hours 4-10 p.m. daily.

Call 239-947-2202 or visit

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