New Guard Takes Over At Palio D’Asti

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Chef Dan Scherotter Hands Over the Kitchen Reins at One of Top San Francisco Italian Restaurants

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When Dan Scherotter plucked now 29 year old Martino DiGrande out of his father’s neighborhood restaurant to head the front of the house at Palio D’Asti, long considered one of San Francisco’s best Italian restaurants in the downtown Financial District, Di Grande could have hardly predicted that within 6 years he would end up the sole proprietor of one of the city’s most popular venues for authentic Italian cuisine. But that’s just what happened this week, when Scherotter, a respected restaurant industry spokesman, past president of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, and a longtime advocate for improving culinary vocational training announced that he was leaving Palio http://www.paliodasti.com for a new career in education - teaching ProStart at John O'Connell High School in the Mission and coordinating hospitality, culinary and tourism studies district wide for the San Francisco Unified School District.

DiGrande’s energy, education and proven work ethic- combined with an old world perspective on top quality service- has already insured a loyal following for the Michelin described “comfortable” venue located on Sacramento Street between Montgomery and Kearny in San Francisco’s Financial District. And he is insuring that fans of Palio’s seasonally changing, regionally inspired Italian offerings will find the same quality and favorite dishes they have come to expect thanks to the continued presence of brothers Jose Alberto Martinez and Mauricio Martinez (who were part of Palio’s opening team in the early 1990s under Craig Stoll after working at Stars and Antica Trattoria, respectively) in their new capacity as joint Chefs de Cuisine.

“Martino's unusual for his generation in both his level of maturity and commitment to building longtime customer relations,” explained Scherotter, who himself became a restaurant owner when Palio’s founder Gianni Fassio allowed him to buy in after years in the kitchen. “And the reality is that Jose and Mauricio know the recipes as well as I do and are committed to maintaining the quality and professionalism our sophisticated regulars demand. When I say goodbye, I can do so with the satisfaction of knowing that not only am I putting my money where my mouth has been for many years by training the next generation of chefs, but I’m also providing an opportunity for these hard working individuals to gain the recognition that I myself received when I took over Palio’s kitchen thirteen years ago.”

The scion of a Sicilian restaurant family, DiGrande’s been responsible for modernizing the restaurant’s cocktail program- including a new mix and match “Manhattan Project” and has built the restaurant’s popular “$1 Pizza” after work special into what many consider San Francisco’s best Happy Hour since becoming General Manager in 2008. In addition to Palio mainstays such as its annual Truffle Dinner in November, he plans to add new events such as September’s “Celebrate Sophia” Pasta Lunch to honor the film star’s birthday and he’s looking to cultivate Sunday Pop Up Dinners with up and coming chefs who rarely have the opportunity to cook in a kitchen of Palio’s capacity- or offer its Wine Spectator award winning selection.

“Excellent service and quality ingredients with an emphasis on local and sustainable fare is what’s important to me because, frankly, that’s how they do it in Italy,” said DiGrande. “I love this business and want to insure that Palio features the kind of consistency that only a hands on owner can offer over the long term. “

Palio D’Asti’s current seasonal menu being executed by the Martinez Brothers reflects the summer table that is Italy’s most famous; utilizing heirloom tomatoes and peppers, eggplant, basil, summer squash, fruit, melons, grilled meat and fish, lighter and more exuberant flavors than at other times of the year. Starters such as Spicy Sautéed Wild Prawns with Garlic and Herbs; Cool Cucumber Salad with Dill, Yogurt and Couscous; Creamy Pugliese Mozzarella with Pan-Roasted Padron Peppers, Fried Capers and Extra Virgin Olive Oil ; Traditional Carpaccio Raw Filet of Beef, Sliced Paper-Thin, with Caper Aioli, and a Stonefruit Salad with Peaches, Plums, Cherries, Butter Lettuce, Arugula, Red Onions, Almonds, Pecorino Pepato and Champagne Nectarine Vinaigrette are joined by Pizza and “Primi Piatti” plates including Pizza of White Corn and Fresh Asiago Cheese with Fresh Arugula and Aged Balsamico; Tender Braised Baby Octopus Pasta with Garbanzo Beans, Salt Cod, Spinach, Cherry Tomatoes, Garlic, and Parsley and Spicy Saffron Seafood Risotto made with Lobster Stock, Green Beans and Seven Fruits of the Sea. Entrees include Fresh Fish of the Day with Garum Aioli, Fried Capers, Grilled Heirloom Summer Squashes and Peppers ; Wood-Baked Eggplant Parmesan with Local Ewe’s Milk Ricotta, Marjoram and Tomato Sauce , and Sicilian Style Spicy Slow-Cooked Suckling Lamb Shank with Eggplant Mustard, Mint, Pine Nuts and Raisins. Desserts run the gamut from Gelato and house made Biscotti to a rustic Cherry Tart, a luscious Chocolate Torte; as well as a full complement of Italian Cheeses. Weekday lunch is a la carte while dinner is a Prix Fixe Menu of any 2 dishes for $32, 3 dishes for $39 and 4 dishes for $44.

Palio D’Asti is located at 640 Sacramento Street between Kearny and Montgomery in the heart of San Francisco’s financial district; convenient to Moscone Center and major downtown hotels. Open for lunch Monday- Friday from 11:30a.m.-2:30p.m., Palio offers dinner Monday- Saturday from 5:30- 9:00 p.m and San Francisco’s Best Happy Hour featuring $1 pizza with the purchase of 2 adult beverages Monday-Friday from 4:00- 7:00 p.m. Private dining is available in 3 rooms for breakfast, lunch, cocktail receptions and dinner for groups of 10- 300. 2 hours free validated parking is available at the nearby Portsmouth Square Garage at lunch or dinner. Reservations are available online via Open Table and directly at http://www.paliodasti.com or by calling (415) 395-9800.

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Media Contact: Tom Walton/Fortune PR, (510) 548-1097, cell (415) 309-1095

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