The List: Piadina

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With so many choices for Italian restaurants in the city, it is easy to get lost in mediocre pasta dishes. I’ve always leaned  towards the smaller, cozier type Italian restaurant as compared to the in your face, family style restaurants like Bond 45 (although I will say their food is pretty great). At the smaller restaurant your more likely to get traditional family recipes and traditional family service. You just feel more connected to the process. However, there are many small Italian restaurants that have left me extremely disappointed. Italian cuisine is all about simple yet robust flavors prepared exquisitely. From region to region, the specialties may vary, but the methodology is always the same. Al dente pasta (fresh handmade preferably), a simplicity in the number of ingredients, richness in flavor that comes from time not butter, and a simple presentation. Of course this is my assessment of the cuisine and you may have your own criteria, but either way I am pretty sure Piadina will meet them…

Last night six of us dined at Piadina for a birthday celebration (Happy Birthday Sarah and Em!). I always love eating with a large group because there is always more to try. The restaurant (W 10th St, Btw 6th & 5th Ave) is set below ground level and as you walk in to the dimly lit dining room, you immediately feel removed from the hustle and the bustle of the city. The decor is homey and unique (white spatulas, rolling pins, and ladles hang from the ceiling) and the atmosphere is casual. After browsing the menu and specials for a few minutes I was excited to order. As for the wine, I never really took a hard look at the list but the Sangiovese we ordered was really nice.

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For appetizers, we all orderd something different. I ordered the minestrone which is something I rarely do. It’s not that I don’t enjoy it, but I find its often bland and disappointing. This however, was neither. The flavors were spot on and the vegetables were obviously fresh.  Luckily I got to try almost everything else on the table as well. The Mussels were cooked to perfection with a simple white wine sauce that would have been great to sop up with some of their delicious bread. Among the other four apps, the asparagus with fresh ricotta, and proscuitto was definitely the stand out. It was the perfect example of how great ingredients do not need a whole lot done to them. The richness of the ricotta with the saltiness of the proscuitto all together with the fresh tang of the asparagus made for an unbelievable plate of food. As I was eating, I started comparing my thoughts to some of the reviews I had read previously. One of the gripes I had heard (a common gripe with these types of restaurants) is that the portions were not very large. I would completely disagree. The portions were the right size. My bowl of soup left me excited for my entree, not starving and not, maybe even worse, regretting there was still food on the way.

The appetizers hit the spot but the entrees really sealed the deal for me. My spaghetti with calamari in a spicy marinara sauce was really delicious. The pasta was al dente, the sauce had the perfect amount of spice and the calamari were not chewy at all. One of my other favorite dishes (in general as well as last night) was the pappardelle with lamb ragu. This was a special last night and it was rich in flavor exactly as a great ragu should be. But ultimately my favorite dish was the rigatoni with eggplant and ricotta cheese. I’ve never been a huge eggplant fan, mainly because if it is not cooked perfectly it just ends up being soggy. However, the creaminess of the ricotta paired with the delicate flavor of the eggplant was a pefect match for the rigatoni and I would without a doubt order that one again.

I would definitely recommend Piadina. The service and decor were authentic, and the food was really delicious and ultimately extremely well priced. We ended up ordering desserts (the tiramisu and the chocolate mousse), neither of which really did it for me.  Although I admit at this point I was pretty full from finishing my dish along with some of the others. Overall I would rate my experience at Piadina as a 8.5/10 and tell you that if your looking for that cozy little italian restaurant in the west village and are sick of the dissapointment, Piadina may be your place…
Other Notes: Cash Only, Reservations only taken for 4 or more

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2 Responses to The List: Piadina

  1. smg says:

    Who’s Em? MY BIRTHDAY!

    The food was SO GOOD. I am going back, I am so lucky it’s 1 block from my apartment. I forgot to point out that there is a teeny 2 person table under the grape arbor/ ivy thingy that is available in the warm weather. I would like to sit there with the asparagus app and wine. I probably wouldn’t invite anyone bc I wouldn’t want to share.

    It was so funny that when we went to leave, we were the ONLY ones there. It was packed when we went it. Good food is a time warp, I guess. And my birthday.

  2. Nancy says:

    Ricky, that is a perfect description of the meal, mood and atmosphere. 3 bottles wine, yes Sarah…2 birthdays, plus 1 “first” gallery show…what a great combo.

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