Monticello Favorite

Located in between Monticello and the Museum District is a very popular little house. The snug dining room and welcoming patio are as inviting as any of the homes that surround it.

Stuffed Chicken Marsala with Ricotta and Mozzarella, shallots, walnuts and polenta in a Marsala Portobello sauce was both attractive and tasty.
Bone-in Chicken stuffed with Ricotta, Pamigiano-Reggiano, spinach, roasted peppers and almonds in a citrus artichoke sauce. 
The Tiramisu is truly one of the best in town

by Courtney Dabney
Reservations are a must. On rare evenings you might be able to walk right in, but most nights you should expect a packed house. The warmer temperatures mean that patio seating will be at a premium, so if that is your preference, you need to say so upfront. Be patient, the professional staff turns over tables in record time, and they usually do a great job of getting you seated on time.

Glancing around the room, you are likely to spot an assortment of local notables as well as neighbors. To say that Piola is homey is an understatement. It is casual and not dimly lit, but classy with dark woods and crisp table linens. Tables with mahogany-toned ladder-back chairs are scattered throughout. The creamy grey colored walls keep things clean and understated. The dishes are what add color and vibrancy to the place. Bold tomato sauces, basil pestos, rich demi-glaces, pastel risottos and polentas pop from their plating.

The Bruschetta is always a favorite, and we couldn’t help but notice the healthy-looking portion of fried calamari presented to the next table. We sampled the Crab Cakes with roasted yellow pepper sauce ($8.95) for a change. Two palm-sized crab cakes arrived resting in a creamy yellow pepper sauce with a great roasted flavor and dusted with fresh parsley. The crab cakes packed plenty of crab flavor and were crispy around the edges, but the consistency was too bready for my liking.

Although our service was slow on this night, it is typically a well-oiled machine. While all the tables around us received their orders quickly, ours took an extra 30 minutes to arrive. Sipping a fine glass of wine made the wait enjoyable. Our ticket must have gotten lost in the shuffle, but that is not the norm.

Bone-in Chicken stuffed with Ricotta, Parmigiano-Reggiano, spinach, roasted peppers, almonds, in lemon caper artichoke sauce ($16.95) was a beautiful presentation. It had colorful sliced red and yellow tomatoes with grilled asparagus spears and was presented atop a mound of creamy polenta. The chicken quarter was served with a crispy, golden skin and was stuffed with the cheeses. Large caper berries were tossed in a lemony citrus sauce. Although the asparagus was overcooked, the flavors from the briny capers and fresh lemon sauce were a winning combination.

A Stuffed Chicken Marsala with Ricotta and Mozzarella, shallots, walnuts and polenta in a Marsala Portobello sauce ($16.95) was both attractive and tasty. The sauce was rich and well-prepared but without much mushroom taste. And, as you can see, the entrees are affordably priced.

For a sweet finish, we opted for the Tiramisu ($6). It is truly one of the best in town. Good Tiramisu is more than just a layered dessert or a scoop of coffee-flavored Trifle lacking in form. This was dense enough to hold its shape. The plate was drizzled with fresh caramel sauce and garnished with plump blackberries. Delicate, moist cake layers were soaked in espresso and topped with a rich layer of lightly sweetened mascarpone cheese, then dusted liberally with powdery espresso. This one is not to be missed.  

Located at: 3700 Mattison Ave.
For reservations call: 817.989.0007 $-$$$
Open: Mon. - Fri. 11 a.m - 2 p.m., Mon. - Sat. 5 - 10 p.m.