La Piazza, Georgetown, CT
La Piazza opened this week for dinner only, and will be open for lunch and dinner beginning Monday, May 7th as per their website (http://lapiazzact.com/).
We decided to give it a try tonight and - for their first Saturday night in business - I would say it wasn't bad.
The renovation is lovely. The bar looks bigger (and brighter) than before and includes tables for dinner and several televisions. Behind the bar a large window looks into the main dining room, which has been completely redone. In addition to the "greenhouse-type" area they added to the front of the building overlooking Route 7, the main dining room now boasts a large fireplace nestled in a wall of built-in bookcases, giving the wall the look of a family room/living room in a large home. Candles graced the mantlepiece. The room is all beiges and browns with low lighting. Even full (by the time we left), the room wasn't too loud for a quiet conversation at the table (although that also meant we occasionally overheard large cheers from the bar whenever some big play was made in whatever sports event the bar crowd was watching on television).
The menu is defined as modern italian. It felt like a step up from Tootzy Patza down the road and was similar in price to Little Pub just up the road. A small plate of olives and a small basket of bread were brought to the table (the bread was good, and slightly warm, but should have been a little warmer). The bottle of olive oil on the table had rosemary, garlic, and other spices inside. We were offered a choice of ice water, sparkling water, or some other kind of water (I can't remember). I asked for ice water. The bottle of water placed on our table was cold...to start...but there was no ice and, eventually, the water was room temperature. Despite the fact that we were in a wine bar, my husband ordered an Italian beer.
We started by sharing an appetizer of the mozarella triangles. The waiter told us they were made in-house. Delicious. The accompanying marinara sauce was also yummy and tasted homemade.
We debated about the main course and then both of us ordered from the "ravioli bar" - choosing seven ravioli each from the six different types offered, and each selecting one of the ten sauces. We split our order between the shrimp/lobster ravioli and the chicken basil ravioli, with the garlic white wine and butter sauce and the pesto sauce on the sides so we could mix and match.
I thought the chicken/basil ravioli were tastier. My husband preferred the shrimp/lobster (which I found a little bland). We thought both sauces were delicious.
At neighboring tables we saw linguine with a meatball, which came served in the cast iron pan, one of the pizzas, which was too large for one person (he took half home), a sandwich on focaccia bread, and (I think) the cavatelli. Everyone seemed to be enjoying their meals and, other than the pizza, appeared to clean their plates.
Dessert offerings included tiramisu, fried pizza dough with cinnamon/sugar and (maybe?) ice cream, creme brulee, gelato, and our choice: the chocolate cake, which was described as something like chocolate cake with raspberry and fudge sauces and a scoop of ice cream. The cake was good - warm, with a molten chocolate center - the vanilla ice cream was good, too. And there was chocolate or fudge sauce over the top. But I was really disappointed that the raspberry sauce (which was great) was ONLY three tiny dots of sauce on the side of the plate - more for decoration than anything else. It's not just that the sauce was delicious and I would have liked more, it's that they went out of the way to mention it in the description on the menu, so I expected it to be an integral part of the dish.
Service was pretty good (our server recognized us from his days at Wilton Pizza & Pasta!), with a few minor glitches that can be easily corrected (like the missing ice or the fact that after the appetizer they took away my knife and fork and never replaced them, so I had to ask for new silverware when they handed me my main course).
It's not perfect, but it's definitely an improvement over Amici's (the last Italian restaurant in that space) - and we'll definitely try it again in a few weeks for dinner as well as for lunch.
Can't wait to hear what the rest of our little Georgetown Chowhound Clique thinks...
(and in a separate note, I see the sign for Bistro 7 went up on the building above DeLuca's Hardware, but it doesn't look like the space is anywhere near ready to open. Anyone have an update?)
I unexpectedly dropped by La Piazza for a quick bite. My experience overall was like yours hungrykids, it was okay. I am going to wait a while to go back. Right now I would grade it a C- with room for improvement.
The good news is the room itself is nicely decorated as is the bar. Handsome dark wood floors and decor. Warm and inviting. Unfortunately the glass windows and ceiling they installed serve a decided dispurpose. One of the windows was open for air and all you could hear was Route 7 traffic, and it was loud and constant. Yuck. As you also mentioned HK, there are bird droppings on the glass roof, unappetizing to say the least.
Onto the food. I couldn't decide between the mozzarella triangles (and yes they are deep fried, I asked) or the meatballs so I ran it by my server who unequivocally said get the meatballs they are the restaurant's specialty. So I did. Three meatballs (for $9) arrived in a small cast iron skillet and the marinara sauce with them was very good. The meatballs however, were not so good. They contained sausage as well as beef and were toughish and dryish. I only ate half of one, the rest went home to my husband who will eat almost anything. The water at the table was fine and cold. The ciabatta in the bread basket was hard and cold, most likely leftover from the day before.
My philosophy on Italian restaurants is I only enjoy eating at them when the food is better than what I make at home. If it is as good as mine I don't want to pay the mark up for it, and if it isn't as good as mine I don't want to eat it.
Based on my one lunch, La Piazza isn't nearly as good as mine (and I still haven't perfected the art of meatballs). So, I'll wait awhile before going back.
We gave La Piazza a second try - this time with one of the hungry kids in tow.
Trish, I forgot to ask if the mozzarella triangles were deep fried and, honestly, I can't remember. The menu called them "fried" - and they were breaded and crisp, but certainly could have been pan fried or oven "fried" rather than deep fried...my apologies!
The return visit was a mixed experience. We again sat "in the greenhouse" where the hungry kid immediately looked up and announced (loudly) that perhaps having a glass "roof" wasn't such a great idea with all the birds around here. I'll leave it to your imaginations to picture the scene and I'll warn future diners not to look up if they don't want to spoil their appetites!
This time I specifically asked for ice in a large glass to go with the water, which I did receive. The bus staff is still really green. Lots of bumping into one another, etc. and our busboy spilled the water on our table when he filled our glasses the first time but never came back to clean it off. Okay - not the end of the world - but some room for improvement here.
Closer to the end of the world (or the end of my life), I was debating ordering a sandwich or wrap. Since I have a fatal allergy to buckwheat (yeah, it's odd), I needed to ask about the ingredients in the breads. My first question to the waiter was whether or not they made their own breads. He said they do not. So I asked if they had an ingredient list and if he could check whether or not there was buckwheat in any of the breads. He returned to the kitchen then came back to our table apologizing that they did not have a list of ingredients and he could not confirm whether or not the breads would be safe for me to eat.
Now I don't have a problem with the restaurant not making their own bread. But I do think they have a responsibility to have a list of ingredients on hand exactly for this reason.
(As it turned out, the sandwich I wanted to order is served on the same focaccia they offer up in the bread basket at the beginning of the meal, which I inadvertently ate WITHOUT asking last week, so at that point I realized I was fine to order it...but STILL I think they need to know the ingredients if they don't make the bread themselves.)
Dinner was mostly okay, but only okay.
First (at the hungry kid's request) we ordered garlic knots. The garlic knots arrived steaming hot and the fragrance of butter and garlic made us all grab for one at the same time...but we were SO disappointed...because despite the wonderful smell, there was absolutely no TASTE of garlic whatsoever. Thanfully, they were served with a side of warm marinara sauce, which was delicious as a dip for the bread.
For dinner, the hungry kid decided (having heard our review) that he wanted to try the ravioli bar. Not that this is a big deal, but between last week and this, La Piazza changed the style of service. Last week the ravioli were on a relatively small plate, and the sauce was in a small container on the side. This week the ravioli was served in a large bowl and the side of sauce came in a large, very full gravy boat. Since it was pesto, the solids had settled to the bottom of the gravy boat, which hungry kid didn't realize until after he had started pouring what was mostly warm olive oil onto his ravioli. We stopped him, mixed the pesto, and then used a fork to get some of the solids onto his plate...not so appetizing an experience.
My SO ordered the caprese sandwich and pronounced the first bites delicious. He finished the first half (served on their focaccia bread) but had to trade his second half to the hungry kid, who decided he didn't want the ravioli after all. Hungry kid pulled off the raw red onion but enjoyed the remainder.
As for me, I ordered the filet mignon sandwich, which came with arugala, carmelized onions, gorgonzola, and a tarragon mayo. Frankly, it was a hot mess. And by that I mean it was, literally, a hot mess! The filet mignon was cooked perfectly and it was moist and tender. But bewtween the juice from the meat, the liquid from the onions, the cheese, and the mayo, the sandwich was dripping wet. It's served in a metal "basket" lined with wax paper which was falling apart (with the food juices dripping through onto the table below) before I was even halfway through my meal. And although I like gorgonzola (otherwise I wouldn't have ordered the sandwich), it was a little overpowering (too much, maybe?) for the sandwich, which maybe also didn't need the tarragon mayo - one item too many, I think.
Both sandwiches were served with thin chips (veggie and potato?) which hungry kid thought were "cool looking" and which my SO thought were too salty. I thought they were delicious.
We also took a meatball grinder to go for the other hungry kid (who stayed home) - which he reports was "perfectly normal."
I'm not ready to write them off just yet (they're too close and convenient)...but I'm hoping for a little better next time around.
Still think the rest of you should check it out and let me know what you think!