Every once in awhile, a great neighborhood restaurant comes along with all of the right ingredients for a lasting recipe: food that’s reliable as it is unfussy; enough warmth and comfort to welcome families, couples and singles; and just under-the-radar enough so you never have to wait for a table. Palms has recently unearthed that gem of a place with the Doughroom, where locals can drop in for lunch or dinner (in this case, brunch too) delivers time and time again.
The straightforward menu of snacks, vegetables, pizzas, pastas and small and large plates highlight seasonal ingredients and local, sustainably produced products, so that tempura of summer tomatoes—lightly breaded and deep fried and dressed with balsamic, honey ricotta and housemade chow chow—is replaced with butternut squash come fall, pizza is topped with housemade sausage and the obligatory burger is packed with Niman Ranch grass-fed beef and housemade corned beef.
An East Coast atmosphere is alive with an Italian-bent on comfort-food classic (when was the last time you ordered spaghetti and meatballs without being ironic?) and gastropub outfitting (exposed wood beams and brick walls, white subway tiles, dark leather banquettes) that somehow feels unpretentious and not too trying, much like the food and service. To boot, there's a spectacular selection of craft beers and wines on draft. The list is small and approachable with a rotating selection of mostly local brews and whites, reds and rosés. With prices this affordable—no dish over $22 and no glass of wine over ten bucks—we only hope that this place stays locals only.
What to order: Grilled prime sirloin cap steak ($19) is cooked medium (though we could've taken it a little more rare) with great tenderness, served alongside a tasty gremolata and slightly crispy smashed roasted potatoes. Meatballs ($6) make for a solid starter or shared primi in spaghetti ($12). You can't go wrong with any of the pizzas, small Neapolitan meets New York–style pies baked crisp in the gas oven. Try the sausage and mushroom or the hearty clam and bacon speckled with potatoes and red pepper flakes.
What to drink: The rotating list of beers and wine offer a solid selection of small-production pours that’s varied as it is interesting and affordable.
Where to sit: Singles can sidle up to the bar to catch the game, while couples can sit at the long, high-top communal table and groups can spread out along the leather banquettes.