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Review: Enjoy traditional Italian at Villa Palma |

Review: Enjoy traditional Italian at Villa Palma

Sometimes you want a nice quiet place to have a good meal and conversation on a Sunday afternoon, and Villa Palma Ristorante delivers it.


Not big and not over-decorated, it is a restaurant of medium size, low lighting and traditional Italian décor, tucked into a strip center in beachside Indialantic. White tablecloths are there, as are cloth napkins and decent dinnerware; flowers are on tables.

On our visit, service was immediate and attentive without being intrusive and our server was entirely familiar with the menu and unafraid to make suggestions.

Real, in-house-baked, warm, crusty Italian bread, not knots or other pre-dinner starches with which we are entirely too familiar, went on the table immediately. It is served with an excellent extra virgin olive oil and herbs.

The menu has a diverse list of offerings, though it isn’t one of those things that takes you an hour to get through: appetizers; house specialties, including filet mignon; chicken and veal; seafood; and pasta dishes.

Guess what isn’t on the menu. That’s right, no pizza. This is an Italian restaurant, not a pizzeria, and bravo to Villa Palma for that.

We started with mozzarella Caprese ($10.95), which featured lovely cheese with plenty of basil (Why do restaurants that offer this dish scrimp on the basil?) and glory, hallelujah, finely sliced garlic, all drizzled with olive oil and set over decent tomatoes. It was a fine version of the classic, once fairly rare and now de rigeur on menus everywhere.

The salad was largely comprised of baby greens, though it included some little tomatoes and slivers of red onion and a little blue cheese, topped with vinaigrette, all was crisp and most welcome on a hot day. A little more cheese would have been good, though. One can never have enough blue cheese.

Because he saw no duck on the menu, he who eats it went with a shrimp and scallop special ($21.95) in which large pieces of seafood were served in a marinara sauce with mushrooms and red peppers. This was a substantial dish, but not heavy; and not over-spiced, though a touch over-sauced.

I opted for an Italian restaurant classic, which you’ve got to do from time to time, just to see how it’s done. In this case, it was chicken Parmigiana ($16.95). This was a properly-pounded-to-thin slice of chicken with a little marinara on top, a slice of mozzarella on top of that and more sauce again, for quite the decorative effect.

The chicken was a little over-fried and dry, and it came with just a little more sauce than I prefer, but it was quality meat with quality cheese and sauce. The accompanying pasta was a little overdone too.

When the answer to “What do you do in house?” is “cannoli cream,” you order a cannolo ($6.95, and that’s singular; you get one per serving). The cream in this especially crispy shell was spot-on: not too sweet but not gritty, bland or sticky either, and just enough chocolate chips were sprinkled over it to make it pretty (and tastier).

Espresso ($3.50), by the way, was outstanding: hot and strong, with plenty of appropriate crema and the traditional twist of lemon peel. Wonderful.

All in all, the shortcomings here were pretty minor, and we will return in the company of people who do eat red meat to sample the featured filets. Hope to see you there.

Want to talk food? Tweet @lyn_ dowling or email 321foodreviews@ gmail.com.

Villa Palma Ristorante

Three and a half stars

Address: 874 N. Miramar Ave, Indialantic

Hours: 5 to 9 p.m. daily

Call: 321-951-0051

WiFi: No

Online: villapalmaristorante.squarespace.com

Other: Wine list; special events accommodated

About our reviews

Restaurants are rated on a five-star system by FLORIDA TODAY’s reviewer. The reviews are the opinion of the reviewer and take into account quality of the restaurant’s food, ambiance and service. Ratings reflect the quality of what a diner can reasonably expect to find. To receive a rating of less than three stars, a restaurant must be tried twice and prove unimpressive on each visit. Each reviewer visit is unannounced and paid for by FLORIDA TODAY.

Five stars:Excellent. A rare establishment to which you’d be proud to take the most discerning diner.

Four stars:Very good. Worth going out of your way for. Food, atmosphere and service are routinely top notch.

Three stars:Good. A reasonably good place with food and service that satisfy.

Two stars: Fair. While there’s nothing special about this establishment, it will do in a pinch.

One star: Not recommended. Don’t bother.

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