Pre-entrée bread and a plateful of olive oil does not an Italian restaurant make. If you want real Italian food in an atmosphere that feels authentic, Palio’s is the place to go. The restaurant itself is meticulously adorned with images, flags and other paraphernalia reminiscent of the Palio di Siena, a biannual horse race held in Siena, Italy. The vibrant colors and textures crowding the walls and ceiling create a cozy dining experience that doesn’t feel claustrophobic, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a table in the house with a bad view.

Your meal is guaranteed to be just as rich as your surroundings — the menu is well-balanced and varied, with plenty of pasta and meat dishes to satisfy all palates, and you can bet the “specials” don’t get their designation for nothing.

The staff is friendly and timely, neither rushing you between dishes nor keeping you gnawing your napkin in your seat. You’ll have to call ahead for reservations on weekends — Palio’s is a popular hotspot for Ann Arbor natives — but your foresight will be rewarded by a delicious dining experience you won’t soon forget.

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