Food

Major Shutter: Palena Closes Over the Weekend

The fine-dining institution and its casual sibling say farewell to Cleveland Park.
Ravioli with roasted sweet potato, shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

One of Washington’s biggest fine-dining shutters since Citronelle occurred over the weekend when Palena closed its doors after service on Saturday. Chef Frank Ruta’s upscale institution operated in Cleveland Park for 13-plus years; its more casual adjoining sibling, Palena Cafe, also closed.

A constant on our 100 Very Best Restaurants list—ranking this year among the top 25—the eatery hadn’t seen a significant dip in quality. Washington City Paper first reported that its landlord, Federal Realty, sought to evict the restaurant after it owed more than $100,000 in rent and other payments. Ruta issued a statement to Eater DC expressing thanks to his staff and loyal patrons, while the latter group turned to Palena’s Facebook page and other outlets to send regrets.

Unlike fellow Cleveland Park eatery Dino, which also recently closed, there are no publicized immediate plans to relocate. A legendary “chef’s chef,” Ruta—a former White House toque and James Beard Award winner—tends to remain reserved when it comes to the media spotlight, though plenty of fans are keeping their fingers crossed he’ll resurface in a kitchen soon.

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Anna Spiegel
Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.