Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Piola Blah
Wednesday evening, my girlfriend and I continued our accidental Restaurant Week tradition of going to a restaurant not participating in Restaurant Week by going to Piola, a relatively new restaurant in Rosslyn. Piola is a pizzeria that got its start 20 years ago in Treviso, Italy. Since then, according to its website, "Piola's quality is now sought after by discriminating and trend-setting international clientele in the United States, Brazil, Argentina and Chile." After eating there, I'm not quite sure why.

There was a pretty big buzz when Piola opened. It sounded cool, looked interesting from the outside, and I was looking forward to trying it. I braced myself to compete with the "discriminating and trend-setting" masses, when we arrived there at about 7:00PM. We had back-up plans, but we didn't have to worry, as the restaurant was more than half empty. There must have been something even trendier going on somewhere else. Maybe a coffee cupping (I'm kidding!). We started out with bruschetta. It was OK, the bread was good enough, the tomatoes tasted fresh. It could have used some more garlic.

My girlfriend had milanesine piola, described as "breaded beef cutlets, on a mixed green's bed, cherry tomatoes and sauteed potatoes." It was OK, the cutlets tasted, well, decent. I'm not sure what type of meat is used for such a thing, but it tasted like the same kind of cut that's used for Steak-Umms. The potatoes were good. This cost $12.95.

There are almost 50 different kinds of pizza available; many of them are similar, and they all have Italian names that really don't mean too much to me. Like chieti (tomato sauce, mozzarella, chicken and arugola) or grenoble (tomato sauce, mozzarella, brie and fresh tomatoes). After deliberation, I went with the modena (tomato sauce, mozzarella and parma ham), which was $11.95 for a pretty big pizza, more than enough for one hungry blogger. I guess the thing with Piola's pizza is that the crust is supposedly more authentically Italian -- very thin and crispy. Normally, that's fine by me. It loses it's appeal, though, when there are spots on the bottom of the pizza that are burned. Maybe that's part of the authenticity, who knows. Other than the burnt spots, the pizza was all right. The ham was good, the cheese and tomato, while sparse, tasted fresh. Mostly it reminded me of those frozen thin crust Wolfgang Puck pizzas that you can buy at the grocery store for $6.00. Except, uh, those were better, and I'm able to cook them in my oven without burning them. (I recommend the white pizza with spinach.)

We each had dessert, she had that Italian classic torta di mele and gelato (apple pie and vanilla ice cream). I had the torta nera and gelato (chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream). I guess "torta" means cake and pie in Italian. Makes things easier, I guess. My girlfriend liked her pie, and I thought the cake was great, it made up a little for the pizza.

Pizza-wise, I'd say the whole concept of Piola's is a lot of hype about nothing really that special. Even though the great Pizza Pantry is closed, I don't have much difficulty getting a pretty good pizza in this town, and next time I feel the urge, I'll probably go to Luigi's.

As we left the still mostly-empty restaurant, we looked wistfully at Cafe Asia next door, which was packed with people looking like they were enjoying their spicy Chinese ravioli, General Tao shrimp, lime chicken and mojitos. We'll make a better choice next time.

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