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Piatti Ristorante & Bar isn’t missing any links in its chain

Lamb Bolognese

National chain restaurants are spread throughout the country. You have your low-end family oriented, mid-range casual eateries and high-end chains offering ethnic fare. Although a lot of us will never want to admit we have dined in them, most of us have.

Of course, San Diego is not without its fair share. Most recently I discovered a chain that I was unaware existed, and what a pleasant surprise it was. Piatti Ristorante & Bar is a classic Italian trattoria that has been cloned with nine locations spread throughout the central states and West Coast. They define themselves as a collection of restaurants as opposed to a chain, and I must agree.

Housed in a white Cape Cod style house in La Jolla’s beach village, Piatti’s offers great fare at reasonable prices. La Jolla is certainly not known for its less expensive restaurants and that’s one reason I really want to share this little gem.

As you walk into this little house, you are greeted with their signature open kitchen and large white bar. Rustic and quaint, the terracotta floor brings you back to a little town in Northern Italy. Big solid wood chairs are reminiscent of a farm house and are lined around bistro-style tables. The exquisite patio was built around a solid oak tree that must have been there for centuries and really offers a unique backdrop.

The menu is simple with no fuss. Classic Northern Italian dishes are offered and as in any Italian restaurant, it is always great to start with something from the Antipasto section. Bruschetta ($7.95) is one of my favorite items here. The thick toasted ciabatta bread is smothered with a generous helping of tomatoes, garlic and basil. If fried calamari is your thing, don’t miss it here. The Fritto Misto ($12.95) comes with not only crunchy calamari, but shrimp and vegetables are also served.

The classic theme continues with the salads. I think I have tried all of them on the menu and two favorites definitely have emerged. The D’Indivia Rucola ($10.95) has fresh endive and arugula tossed with marinated beets. The lemon vinaigrette keeps it just light and refreshing. Of course the Caprese ($11.50) should be one of the best on the menu, and during my last visit it was prepared with the most amazing heirloom tomatoes. Colors of green, red and orange, mixed with a creamy burrata was summertime on a plate.

Pastas can always be hit or miss in restaurants like this. Although, most that I have had here were decent, I was disappointed in the use of dry pasta. The Linguine al Salmone ($19.95) was a departure for me, but a rewarding one. Rich kalamata olives and tiny capers were tossed in a light olive oil with spinach and onions. To my surprise the chunks of salmon were cooked to perfection and the light sauce really made this dish delicious.

Lasagna ($16.50), of course, is always a staple and this version is one that does not disappoint. Rich meat ragu and layers of mozzarella swim in a sweet tomato sauce. The Penne al Brassato D’Agnello ($17.95) with the use of lamb makes this an interesting play on Bolognese. A bit gamey for my tastes, it didn’t quite hit the mark.

If you aren’t counting calories, the Orecchiette ($16.95) is the way to go. A creamy and heavy gorgonzola sauce covers sautéed chicken breasts. The ear shaped pasta is the perfect size match for the sundried tomatoes and asparagus.

If your craving for pasta isn’t that strong the night you go, pick out a pizza or entrée. The Veal Piccatta ($22.95) is a true Italian dish, with thinly pounded veal medallions that are breaded and served with a tangy sauce of lemon, capers and butter.

As with most chain establishments, the wine list is a set corporate list. This list seems to be no exception. Several wines by the glass are offered, but all the standards are there. You can find a favorite, but don’t expect to find anything interesting.

With the friendly and comfortable style of the décor and menu, the service match’s the concept. You can see the family run connection in this location as the servers are smiling and really seem to enjoy their job. Each time I have received efficient and thoughtful service by professionals.

If you are a diehard snob against anything that is a chain, get over it here. Piatti’s really breaks the mold and never once have I not felt the true love that is put into this restaurant. One always thought that a restaurant with this price point and food quality could not exist in the tough market of La Jolla, but Piatti’s proves they can, among many other things.

Piatti Ristorante & Bar
2182 Avenida De La Playa
La Jolla, CA 92037

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Posted by on Sep 1, 2011. Filed under Restaurant Review. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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