Cuisine: Pizza , Brazilian
Menu: View the Menu
Do New Yorkers love any food as much as they do pizza? The owners of Piola are betting on the answer to that question. That is the main reason they have chosen to open a much larger New York branch of their popular Italian and South American chain of wine bars. They’ve brightly decorated a cavernous Union Square-area space with colorfully slip-covered chairs, hanging lamps and goofy artwork. And while you might not realize the eatery’s Brazilian connection right away, you will as soon as the charming waitstaff asks if you want to sample their signature drink: a caipirhna.Review By: Brian Scott Lipton
Now, back to that pizza. The first page of Piola’s menu encompasses dozens and dozens of varieties of thin-crust pizzas, which are baked in a true brick oven at the back of the restaurants. They can be topped as simply as mozzarella and basil, or more complexly with shrimp, chicken, ham, salami, mushrooms and many other ingredients. The one pizza we sampled, topped with mozzarella, ricotta and spinach, was quite tasty, but it’s not likely to make a New Yorker’s top-10 list.
No matter, since some of the offerings on the rest of Piola’s simple but seductive menu just might. The beef carpaccio – which comes in four variations – was unbelievably fresh; little did we know that it was cut to order. The bountiful D’Annunzio salad is an enticing mélange of mixed greens, tomatoes, corn, bean sprouts, hearts of palm, buffalo mozzarella, avocado and egg. (It arrives undressed, alongside bottles of oil and balsamic vinegar.) And I truly can’t recall the last order of gnocchi (homemade also) that was so supernally light. We opted for the beautifully simple tomato-basil sauce, but the pasta also comes with a four-cheese sauce. An important note, while all the dishes – as well as the pizzas -- are advertised as individually sized, everything can easily be split by a pair of diners.
That caveat applies equally to Piola’s delicious homemade desserts. The “torta nera” is actually two large, dense squares of brownie-like chocolate cake topped with vanilla ice cream; while the apple pie is an extraordinarily high creation, chock-full of cinnamon-dusted fruit. Next visit, we’ll consider sampling the profiteroles (our waitress’ favorite) or the tiramisu. And we’ll bring a large group.
Neighborhood: Union Square
Entree Price: <$10
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