Mambo Italiano

Mambo Italiano

Palermo’s brings a taste of Italy to Kettering

By Brian P. Sharp

Palermo’s Chicken Parmigiana is topped with house-made marinara sauce, three cheeses, and is served with a side of spaghetti and a garlic roll.

In a quiet shopping center just minutes from downtown Dayton is Palermo’s, an amazingly authentic Italian restaurant. Palermo’s, located at 2667 S. Dixie Dr. in Kettering, is a hit among regular clientele. The dining room was remodeled and expanded in November 2010, increasing the seating capacity and adding a full-service bar. This little gem is one of the Gem City’s best-kept secrets.
This restaurant opened its doors in 2007 and already had a loyal following. The same owners had previously operated La Pergola in Kettering – a pizza and sandwich shop.  The owner, Meef Demnika, worked in Italian restaurants in Europe from an early age and worked his way up to manager. Then, after relocating to America, he settled in the Dayton area. After his successful run with La Pergola, Meef decided to open Palermo’s and soon will be opening another restaurant close by. The recent remodeling and expansion nearly doubled the size of the dining room. There is plenty of seating at tables, booths and even at the bar.
Demnika is still using the skills he learned many years ago.  While he still has pizzas on the menu, that is not his only specialty. Demnika does most of the cooking at Palermo’s and the pizza offerings are plentiful, from basic options like Simply Cheese to more gourmet options like Palermo’s White with olive oil, spinach, red onion, fresh garlic, fresh tomatoes, mozzarella and parmesan cheeses. There is even fresh garlic added to the Palermo’s Deluxe. The pizza crust is also a specialty, made by hand each day. One of the guests told me, “It is simply the best pizza in town.” Pizzas range in price from $9.99 to $15.99.
The sauces are all house-made and are offered with spaghetti, gnocchi, tagalini or ziti pastas. The Bolognese sauce is rich, creamy and full of flavor. Some of the sauces are cooked overnight and include Italian sausage, prosciutto and ground chuck. Demnika and co-chef Louis Sallaku believe these details are critical to their success. They also insist on the best ingredients for the breads, pasta, sauces, vegetables, cheeses and meats.  Most of the menu items are made from scratch. This restaurant is truly a family business.
My friends and I arrived later in the evening and getting a table was no problem. Palermo’s stays open until 11 p.m., Monday through Wednesday and until midnight, Thursday through Saturday, but is closed on Sunday.
Our server was delighted to share the specials of the day, which included soup, pasta and seafood options. We decided on an appetizer of Fried Calamari while we looked over the menu options. The calamari was served on a bed of lettuce, lightly breaded and with a side of marinara sauce. The appetizer options vary from the calamari to a meatball and sausage combo. The appetizers range in price from $3.99 to $9.99.
Several salads on the menu include a garden salad and an antipasto salad varying in price from $4.99 to $7.99, served with a fresh garlic roll.
We placed our orders – Chicken Parmigiana, Baked Lasagna and Chicken Romano (one of the daily specials). Specials are offered with soup and a salad and regular entrées are served with a house salad. The soup was served piping hot with a garlic roll on the side.  The salads followed and were mixed greens topped with chopped olives, red onion and tomato slices – the house-made Italian dressing is a nice option.
The classic Lasagna, a favorite among patrons, is served in an oval baking dish with a garlic roll.  The Chicken Parmigiana is two large pieces of chicken, lightly breaded, complemented with marinara sauce and topped with three cheeses and a side of spaghetti.  The Chicken Romano is sautéed in a lemon butter wine sauce with portabella mushrooms over a bed of linguini. We all got to sample the each other’s entrées and each one was full of flavor. The entrées are large enough to take some home for later.
The menu is full of other entrée options that vary from traditional Baked Ziti to Eggplant Parmigiana to Chicken Picatta to Baked Stuffed Shells. Entrée options range in price from $8.99 to $19.99
If you still have room, there are a few dessert options including Tiramisu, Cheesecake and Cannoli, all for about $5 each.
Palermo’s is a classic Italian establishment, run like a big Italian family. The food is cooked with love and a tip of the chef’s hat to classic Italian cooking. Drive the quick 10 minutes from downtown Dayton and give Palermo’s a try.
Who wants to join me for a great pizza on a cold winter evening?

Reach DCP freelance writer Brian P. Sharp at contactus@daytoncitypaper.com.

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