Margherita Aloi, executive chef and owner of Il Palio Ristorante, believes, “It's better to give than to receive.” During this yuletide season, a traditional time for giving, Ms. Aloi plans to continue to use her culinary talents and provide flavorful, three-course dinners for those in need. For the past year, Il Palio Ristorante has delivered aesthetically-appealing and flavorful appetizers, entrees, pasta dishes and desserts to The Spooner House, a transitional housing facility for people with little or no income. The meals have included roasted filet of Atlantic salmon encrusted in Dijon and whole grain mustard with fresh tarragon; house-made lasagna layered with a pork, veal and beef ragu, with a touch of cream; broccoli rabe sauteed in garlic and extra virgin olive oil; roasted Yukon Gold potatoes; Caesar salad, and rolls.
Even though the weekends are typically the restaurant's busiest time, Ms. Aloi said she prefers to prepare the monthly dinners on Friday evenings so that Spooner House clients have something to look forward to at the end of the week.
“I believe we have a duty to give back what we have so freely been given,” said Ms. Aloi. “Cooking is my passion, and I truly feel blessed that God gave me certain skills and talents. I feel it's my obligation to use these gifts to benefit others.”
Moreover, Ms. Aloi doesn't feel one's income should prohibit them from enjoying good food. Growing up in Tucci, a small town in Italy's Piedmont mountains, Ms. Aloi learned how to cook using fresh, homegrown ingredients. A traditional Tuscan dish that she has perfected over the years is Dolce e Forte, a “sweet and sour” beef stew. This hearty dish is perfect on a cold winter's day.
In January, Il Palio will resume its $10.09” luncheon specials in honor of Ms. Aloi's October 9th birth date. The meal includes a choice of appetizer and specified pasta or meat dish.
Arriving in New York at the age of 18, Ms. Aloi's positive attitude and altruistic spirit, combined with exceptional culinary skills, led to her rapid professional ascension in some of Manhattan's most high-profile Italian restaurants.
“America has been very good to me,” Ms. Aloi said.
Gift baskets featuring first cold pressed extra-virgin olive oil and flavored oils imported from the Bolgheri family in Tuscany are available for last-minute gifts.
Located at Enterprise Corporate Park in Shelton, Il Palio is owned by Fairfield's Robert D. Scinto.
Il Palio Ristorante is closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day but will be open on New Year's Eve from 5:30 to 9 pm. Reservations are recommended. “We will have a special New Year's Eve menu but the prices will be the same,” Ms. Aloi explained. “We believe in starting the year off right by celebrating with our restaurant family and our wonderful clients. We've been blessed by our good fortune and look forward to another wonderful year in 2013.”
Il Palio Ristorante, located at Five Corporate Drive in Shelton, is open for lunch Monday to Friday, 11:45 pm to 2:15 pm, and dinner on Monday to Saturday, from 5:30 pm to 9:15 pm. Reservations are recommended. For more information, go to ilpalioct.com or call 203-944-0770.