Very disappointing. We tried the restaurant in late December on the strength of the chef’s impressive bio and the blurbs from various reviews going back to 2000. So, we were unpleasantly surprised. The ambiance was boring. The place simply had no energy. The food was okay, but nothing special. And the portions for main course pasta dishes were ridiculously small. Keep in mind we eat small to moderate portions of food ---I’m a 150 lb. guy--- so we do not expect or want large amounts of food, but the main course portions at Palena are really appetizer portions. We eat in well-known Manhattan restaurants (such as Mario Batali’s restaurants) regularly and I’ve never seen main course portions so small. And, I was surprised that they charge for bread with dinner. And even the basket of bread was too small, and included 2 breadsticks that were so hard they were not edible. (All this was in sharp contrast to our dinner the following night at Michel Richard’s Central which had it all --- awesome food, ambiance, energy, the whole deal.) It's hard to understand all the good reviews for Palena, unless it used to be much better and the reviews are old. Whatever the case, Palena is nothing special.
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