Switch Pizzeria & Wine Bar
Photo by Patti Light
The drive into Palestine from just about any direction is lined with large lush trees and miles of country highway. In search of this Italian kitchen you’ve heard about, the turn onto South Royall Street from Loop 256 leaves you wondering where in the approaching large brick homes is it? Look to the left and you’ll find it is one of the large brick homes, the former, newly renovated Kingdom Hall.
Switch Brick Oven Pizzeria & Wine Bar is nestled upon a hill with a large beautiful iron and wood front door. The barn doors slide open and welcome diners with a rush of garlic, fresh tomato and baking dough perfume. It is rustic inside with a small dining area, bar, and a private wine room with a table for 12. The back of the restaurant is consumed by an open kitchen and impressive brick oven bringing heat and aroma to all who enter. The wine selection is not one you would expect to find in East Texas. Join the wine club for great events and announcements. My guests and I knew we were in for an evening of food and love the minute we sat down.
Switch is open Tuesday-Friday for lunch and dinner and on Saturday for dinner only. The wait staff is friendly and the owners, Carmen and Regina Santone, wander through the dining rooms checking on tables, filling glasses, when they are not in the kitchen making amazing food. The food is made fresh each day from top to bottom. Santone makes the dough by hand, as well as their mozzarella, and they make all the sauces and slice all the pepperoni. Carmen’s family recipes inspire their menu and then he adds his own flair to them.
Pizza is the star at Switch. It comes served piping hot from the brick oven and resting on the crisp and fresh made dough. Santone imports his dough flour from Italy. You should try at least two each time. The Blanco is a heavenly slice of the take on the new trend of “white” pizzas with house-made mozzarella, spinach, garlic herb sauce, ricotta and pecorino Romano cheese. The Oink is saucy and layered with fresh mozzarella, speck, Italian sausage and rich and earthy sauce.
My favorite thing at Switch is not the pizza though it is found on the back of the menu and it may be the best pasta I have had outside of a small place in Little Italy, New York. It is called the Meatball Immaculata. It is two large hand-made meatballs with a spicy tomato sauce, but plated next to them is a mound of hand-made pasta in what Switch calls a Benevento sauce. Your taste buds say this is a creamy vodka sauce or maybe a tomato with fresh herb. It is a pure Benevento-region vegetarian sauce that is silky and layered with herbs, vegetable notes and roasted tomato. It is so lovely and filling.
Recommending Switch is easy and if you have room try the sweet and decadent zeppole with a cup of their French press coffee. My only wish for Switch is that it was open on Saturdays for a quick lunch or had a great Sunday brunch. The treat of eating here is always worth taking a look at hours on your calendar to plan your pile of Italian love in Palestine.