Pietra's - Family Style Italian - Milford CT
Went to Pietra's for a family dinner, party of 15, Saturday night at 6PM. This restaurant has gone in on the Post Road, near North Street (Route 121). Several other restaurants and bars have come and gone at this location before this little find. If you like standard good Italian and love eating family style, then you will enjoy this restaurant. All staff are extremely friendly. Upon our arrival, the entire dining establishment was packed as it was when we left. I was surprised at the number of tables in this restaurant. All plates serve two or more, like Carmine's or Tony diNapoli in NYC. I cannot remember the exact names of all the dishes we had since I didn't place the order, but we started with mixed salad (with a really nice light creamy house dressing), caesar salad (OK), and fried calamari (standard style), grilled portobello, and tomato and mozz (why restaurants still serve this dish when tomatoes are not in season is beyond me) for apps. We selected about seven entrees that also come with a large saute pan filled with sauced capellini. Some of our entrees were a special of tilapia that was loaded with tiny clams and other seafood, chicken scarpiello, a chicken and eggplant dish, veal parm, an incredible veal and mushroom dish with brown sauce, a chicken and vegetable with brown sauce special, and another dish I can't remember. They were kid-friendly and provide a small plate of plain raviolis for the child at our table. My only complaint--and it is minor--is that the shrimp in the tilapia special were those tiny canned sort--I wonder what they use for their regular shrimp dishes. Dessert list was very robust, and are served individually, and included profiteroles (rolled in mousse no less!), napoleon, tiramisu, sorbets served in the fruit, gelato, chocolate mousse cake, and tartufo. There was a nice size bar that you can see from the lower dining room with several TVs. The upper dining room (where we did not sit) you can see slightly into the semi-open kitchen. Acoustics are kind of loud because ceilings are relatively low with the bustling crowd of patrons. Overall, it was a fun night out with family, especially for large family parties. Co-owner said no website yet, but they are working on it. They've been open three months.
The last and only time I've eaten family style in a restaurant was in Lancaster PA about 10 years ago at one of those so-called Amish restaurants - I almost forget what it was like. I would be willing to try it again. Lately I've been on a kick where I'm looking for really good, classic, unimaginative red sauce Italian food. Usually I have bias against new places - should I give Pietra's a try?
We finally got to Pietra's on Saturday night. There were 8 of us and here's what we ordered:
Mussels - 1 order fed all 8 of us!!!!!! The largest serving of mussels I have ever seen!!!!
While the size of the last 2 was not as overwhelming as the mussels, suffice it to say that all 8 of us had at least a taste of everything
Pasta special (small shrimp, scallops, chopped clams, broccoli over linguini) - served in the same large skillet as the mussels, and again, all 8 of us were able to get a reasonably decent serving
Chicken Scarparello - while not the classic dish with on-the-bone chicken, it was nevertheless very tasty
Veal Scaloppini with mushrooms
Another special, a salad with fresh mozzarella and some other very nice ingredients, was ordered as an entree by one of the "diet conscious" in our group, but ended up getting shared by all!
By the time dessert was offered, the thought of more food was pretty unappealing to most of us!, but we did order profiteroles for the table and it was very enjoyable.
The verdict? While there is no culinary ground broken here, the food was very good, if somewhat unexciting. The value is absolutely amazing! Most of the entrees are in the $20 - $22 range and as noted above, fed a number of adults. The mussels, at $12, were an absolutely unbelievable bargain, and even the most expensive dish, the pasta special at $24.95, would have easily been twice the price at most restaurants. The entire bill (including beverages - probably a dozen or more glasses of wine, coffees, capuccinos, etc) was $235 for all 8 of us!!!! If you backed out the beverages, it was less than $20 a person.
My opinion is that if you're dining with a group that want to be able to share a number of very competently prepared dishes, you really can't go wrong. If you're looking for a fine dining experience, or looking to be "wowed," you might contemplate some other options.