In Italy, the word “Palio” generally refers to the decorated banner that is presented to the winner of the summer horse race in Siena, Italy. In Ann Arbor, however, the word “Palio” usually causes people”s stomachs to growl.

Paul Wong
Palio brings an authentic Italian atmosphere to Ann Arbor.<br><br>TOM LIM/Daily

Palio Ristorante is the bright yellow Italian restaurant on Main Street. This year, the restaurant”s cuisine was voted the “Best Italian food” in Ann Arbor. And it”s not hard to see why.

The menu offers a wide choice of Tuscan fare: Pasta, meat, fish, chicken, salads, soups and desserts. Freshly baked bread is served with olive oil and pepper, and many customers supplement their meals with the house salad a mixture of fresh greens, gorgonzola cheese, tomatoes and red onions.

“The most popular pasta is probably the Fettucine con Pollo, Pumate e Pesto,” manager Jenny Breitenwischer said, “and the number one grill seller is definitely the Pollo Parmigiana.”

Palio”s fresh dishes are enjoyed by many University students. Senior Nader Salah explained, “The food is delicious from the freshly ground pepper to the huge chunks of seafood in the Linguine Pescatore.”

Palio also has an extensive wine list, which includes the largest selection of Chianti wines in Ann Arbor. And the desserts including tiramisu and cannoli are dangerously tempting when the server brings around the tray after dinner.

But the food is only part of Palio”s allure. The dimly lit restaurant offers a beautiful setting for a romantic rendezvous. Maps of Italy adorn the walls, and bright flags hang from the beams. Dark shelves display bottles of Italian wine and olive oils.

“The restaurant is really romantic,” said Art and Design senior Melissa Akey. “It”s the perfect place to go on a date.”

Couples can converse over large wooden tables with red-checkered tablecloths. Extra-affectionate twosomes can cuddle up on the same side of Palio”s cozy booths. And in the summer, patrons can dine at rooftop tables and enjoy the warm breezes.

“A couple even hosted their wedding party at Palio last week,” Breitenwischer said.

A final bonus is the exceptional service. “The servers are always really friendly,” LSA senior Erin Mullally said, “and the waiters look hot dressed in all black.” So if your date isn”t living up to your expectations, you can always scribble your phone number on the receipt.

All in all, Palio promises an amazing culinary experience. Dark and romantic, it”s the perfect place for a couple to enjoy a bottle of Chianti and some bruschetta. And although the prices are a bit steep for college rogues, the food is worth every penny. So the next time you want to impress your crush, just make a reservation at Palio. You”ll be guaranteed an enjoyable evening.

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