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Jun 26, 2007 04:30 AM

Piccola Italia - Summer Menu

Not sure when it happened, but Piccola Italia changed its menu. If you haven't been recently, GO! The Insalata con Pomodoro alla Burrata di Puglia (House Made Fresh Ricotta Burrata, Marinated White Bean Salad, Arugula, Marinated Tomatoes, Grilled Crostini, Balsamic Glaze) was OUTSTANDING. I've never had Burrata cheese before (, but what a great surprise. The cheese is essentially a fresh buffalo mozzarella with a softer, slightly oozy inside. In this dish the cheese is smeared over a huge hunk of thick, grilled tuscan bread, which in turn tops a delicious arugula and plum tomato salad with white canellinis. The trip was worth it for this dish alone.

Also notable was the fresh herbed gnocci - Gnocchi di Erbe con Fiori di Zucca
Hand Made Herb Gnocchi, Ricotta and Fresh Mozzarella Stuffed Zucchini Flowers, Tomato Coulis, Zucchini Puree (so light and flavorful!). I've never had a dish of gnocci and still had room for more. The only disappointment was the missing zucchini flowers (apparently the chef's shipment was sub-par). They were replaced by a light eggplant rollatini (don't think of your typical pizza joint type mess), a solid substitute.

There was also a pasta special - Homemade perciatelli with lump crab, roasted zucchini, chanterelles, spring onions, and corn freshly sliced off the cob. The dish seemed to celebrate all thats great of summer- I thought the combination a bit odd when I heard it, but it really worked.

The dessert menu also changed a bit, and I would highly recommend the molten brownie with dulce de leche ice cream and johnnie walker black chocolate sauce. I'm not typically a dessert eater, but my wife had to try this- when I saw it, I had to pile on. It was fantastic.

This place is probably my top pick in monmouth county. I've never had a bad meal here, the service is attentive, you can feel comfortable dressed up or down. There is a reasonable priced wine list with a wide range of selections. If you've never been, make sure give it a shot this summer! Link with menus:

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  1. I totally agree. Tried Angelica's the other night after all the raves here and the food was good, but not fantastic. Our meal at Piccola Italia was FANTASTIC. I hope they still have the oyster dish on the appetizer menu. I still crave eating it! Definitely my top pick in Monmouth as well
    Looking forward to the new menu-thanks for the update

    2 Replies
    1. re: Densell

      I'm afraid that I agree with you about Angelica's. Only okay and barely that. I was surprised and disappointed after the high marks it has received here and elsewhere. Too expensive by half for a mediocre meal.

      1. re: Deb Van D

        Ditto. While we enjoyed Angelica's I thought the prices were a bit high. $13 for a cucumber salad.

        Dont forget about the 50% certificate available for Piccola Italia by WJRZ.

    2. After reading such great reviews of this restaurant, I booked my daughter’s high school graduation dinner for our family at Piccola Italia. Even though it was for a Monday night, I made the reservation well in advance and called to confirm the day before. The restaurant should have been expecting our party of 8 at 8 pm.

      The waitress seemed friendly enough at first while she took our orders. The staff brought the amuse-bouche promptly (which was delicious: an apple slice topped with warm goat cheese and slivered almonds). The chef was very accommodating to my son’s peanut allergy as well. Unfortunately, the rest of our meal took a turn for the worse.

      We waited at least 30 minutes for salads and soups. This delay was not a problem since we were entertained in the interim by my daughter opening her graduation presents. After all, it was a celebration so everyone was in a good mood. Even though the restaurant was empty (3 tables of diners including ours) and the staff had plenty of time to sort out our order, most of the people who ordered salads got the wrong ones and those who ordered the soup special received their bowls with about a centimeter of cold soup and a thick skin formed on the surface. Nonetheless, my family ate what was put in front of them and maintained the celebratory mood. No need to ruin my daughter’s graduation dinner by a little mix-up in the kitchen, right?

      So we waited for our main course. We waited and waited and waited. After 45 minutes had elapsed (during which time not one member of the staff gave us a single update), I approached the waitress and asked her to check on our food. In response, the waitress informed me (with excessive and unwarranted attitude!) that the kitchen was short-staffed and they were working as fast as they could. A man who appeared to be the manager clearly overheard this encounter yet didn’t even give us the decency to apologize for the slow service and rude waitress.

      My daughter needed to be back at the school by 11pm to catch the bus for a “Project Graduation” event. I had informed our waitress of this when our party sat down and yet the restaurant was unable to feed us in our time constraint of 3 hours. Just as my older daughter was getting up to drive the high school graduate to her bus, the food arrived. Since my daughter would have missed the bus if she had stayed to eat her graduation dinner, my two daughters took their gourmet, not-so-cheap meals to go. What a waste! The rest of our party stayed at the restaurant and finished out the meal despite that we had pretty much lost our appetites after the long wait and obnoxious staff. Paying the pricey bill wasn’t quite as painful as leaving the waitress the 18% tip that was added automatically.

      I’ll admit that the food was quite good. Call me crazy but I think good service is just as important as good food, especially at a top-rated restaurant like Piccoloa Italia. I will never dine at this restaurant again, and I strongly recommend choosing different restaurant if you are in the mood for Italian.

      3 Replies
      1. re: RachelJoy

        Rachel - The service you received is unacceptable. I would take the matter up with the restaurant's managment/ownership and see whether some kind of accomodation could be made. I recognize that you can never get that evening back, but I suggest you at least communicate with them in the hope that the matter be resolved and ultimately give the place another chance. BTW, I've always enjoyed excellent service at Piccola. Thank you for your post.

        1. re: bgut1

          I'm really surprised that you had such a bad experience there. I've eaten there many times and the service has been excellent and accomidating. My husband is a CIA graduate and former chef/front of the house manager and is really picky about service, and he was very pleased there. Sorry you had such a bad experience! You should try it again and let the management know about your former experience there.

          1. re: Densell

            I'm curious to see how they handle the situation. No organization is perfect, and a restaurant cannot hit a home run 100% of the time, but IMO a restaurant worth returning to will make sure they address the problem.

      2. Dined at Piccola last night and had a good meal despite some flaws. My wife and I started out with two of the dishes Amy describes above -- the burrata and the gnocchi. The burrata was outstanding -- the best dish of the meal. I could have easily had another order of this very addictive tasting cheese with smoky tuscan bread. The gnocchi were also very good and we did receive the zucchini flowers that Amy missed. The gnocchi were small and crispy. I think the menu said the zucchini flowers were to be stuffed with fresh mozzarella, but I'm pretty sure it was ricotta. It was a very good dish. Our entrees did not stack up as well. Both of the entrees suffered from temperature problems. I had the duo of beef (NY strip and short ribs). The short ribs, spinach and mashed potatoes were hot, but the NY strip barely warm. My wife's crab cakes were also barely warm, with the corn ragout piping hot. The dishes were both fine, but neither as good as the burrata and gnocchi. We then ran into a bit of service problem when it came for dessert. When we arrived early at 6 pm we were the only diners. By 7:30 when we were ready for dessert the restaurant was about 3/4 full and clearly understaffed (perhaps it was a busier than usual Monday night?). We waited some time for a dessert menu and another 15 minutes before our server returned to take our order. By then, we had decided to skip dessert. They had a special peach and berry cobbler which I would have ordered. We were given a peach amuse with mascarpone and prosciutto to start the meal with a peach that was out of this world delicious. I was looking forward to more peaches, but it wasn't meant to be. Instead, we stopped by Cafe 360 in Freehold for gelato ... the blood orange was excellent. All in all, a solid meal with a couple of nice highlights.

        2 Replies
        1. re: jsfein

          Sounds great. Thanks for the report - reminds me that I need to go back soon.

          Btw, last week I took the kids to Cafe 360 for sandwiches and gelato. I really like the food there too, but what made me post was that I also had the blood orange sorbet and liked it a lot. Funny that the thing I miss most about italy is having blood orange juice every morning ;o)

          1. re: seal

            I was looking at the Cafe 360 food menu while eating our gelato and it looked pretty good. I'll have to give it a try.

        2. Trying to decide between piccola italia and anjelica's for dinner friday...I've heard great things about both, does anyone have a preference and or menu suggestion??

          3 Replies
          1. re: michelinaO

            oohhh two GREAT pics!!! They both are very good. The pasta dished are great at both. I think I like the ambiance more at Piccola. At Anjelica's I always get the pasta dish with jumbo shrimp, arugala, and tomatoes...simple..yet delicious!!


            1. re: Angelina

              Amgelina. my mouth is watering were is these restuarants?

              1. re: Babs16

                Well, Anjelica's is in Sea Bright on Ocean Avenue. BYOB located across from the police station and next to a lounge called "Elements".

                Piccola Italia is located in Cobblestone Village right off of Rt. 35 South in Ocean Township.



                Either one can't go wrong!!! yum!!!