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Review: Piada Italian Street Food

 Morgan Kelley Review: Piada Italian Street Food
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The history of Piada Italian Street Food can be traced all the way back to the year 2010. In fact, the first Piada location that opened on Lane Avenue will be celebrating their first anniversary on September 1st. With three locations now open and three more opening soon, Piada may qualify as the most rapidly expanding local restaurant, being only 10 months old.

I recently stopped by the Bexley location (store #002) to conduct an official review. The Bexley location seems to be a little more relaxed than the overcrowded Lane Avenue store, which was quite nice for a change of pace. The seating is ample both indoors and out, and the decor and design feels very well thought out. I really liked the outside patio setup and if it hadn’t been over 90° when I visited, I may have sat outside. Instead, I sat inside, where the music was fun and the temperature was cool. It’s apparent that Piada founder Chris Doody is planning for rapid chain expansion and the Piada concept can easily be imagined with 1,000 locations across the US in another 10 years.

The fast casual format at Piada has drawn many comparisons to Chipotle from friends of mine, and rightfully so. You start at the beginning of the line with a burrito-sized tortilla-like wrap called a Piada and proceed to follow it down the line adding meats, pasta, vegetables, sauces and toppings. Other menu options include a salad/bowl if you want to skip the wrap, a small selection of soups and a few other sides. Overall, the menu is kept fairly clean and simple for the ease of navigation.

I tried the Italian Sausage Piada ($6.85) which is a fairly standard staple menu item. The Piada wrap is a little more floury than a tortilla, and tends to break apart a little more easily. Keep it inside the foil while consuming unless you want to finish it with a fork. The addition of spaghetti noodles is an interesting one, but it works really well. The Italian sausage and vegetables are marinated nicely and grilled to perfection. Other toppings such as peppadew peppers and artichokes add a distinctly Mediterranean flavor to any of the dishes, and further distinguishes Piada from it’s Mexican counterparts. Instead of salsa, you’re given a choice of six sauces ranging both in temperature and on the scoville scale. Parmesean Alfredo is a good choice for something creamy and mild, while Diavolo sauce is garlicy with a nice medium bite.

I’ve also tried out the wrap-free option with the Salmon Pasta Bowl ($8.95). Other than the carrying vessel, the ingredients remain the same. The salmon was nicely grilled, and the eggplant, cucumbers and tomatoes were fresh. I also added Parmesan cheese flakes, which was a nice choice. The one ingredient I wish I hadn’t added was the romaine lettuce. I imagine the bowl option works better as a salad if you stick to cold ingredients, but the mix of hot spaghetti noodles and cold crisp lettuce was an odd combination due to my inexperience with flavor combinations. Chalk it up to experimentation.

For a sampling of sides, there’s the Lobster Bisque ($4.50), one of three soup choices (Tomato Basil and Italian Wedding being the others). The bisque was thick and salty, perhaps a little too salty, but still enjoyable. I was hopeful that it would be the same flavor as the Lindey’s recipe, but it wasn’t quite there. I’d order it again, perhaps when it’s a bit colder outside, but would prefer the option of getting a cup instead of a bowl. A full bowl of soup is too much to eat along side a full size Piada, but not quite enough to eat on its own.

The Piada Stick ($1.85) is a wrapped and fried treat filled with pepperoni (pictured above), cheese or artichokes and served with a Parmesan dipping sauce. Not a bad option for the low price, but it felt a bit like something you’d find at the Ohio State Fair: a deep fried pepperoni-stuffed bread-stick with cheese sauce. I think a more traditional pizza-roll stick would have been better.

Overall, my experiences at Piada are positive ones. There can be a bit of a learning curve at first when it comes to navigating the menu to figure out which sauces and ingredients go best together. I have no doubt that Piada will continue to be a success, both locally and wherever their growth pattern takes them next. I love that they have specialty drinks. I tried the Berry Italian Soda and Peach Tea ($1.55sm/$1.85/lrg). They both had good flavor and added something special to the experience.

Piada Italian Street Food in Bexley is located at 2585 E. Main Street. Additional locations are near Gahanna (Morse Road) and Upper Arlington (Lane Avenue) and new locations coming soon include Easton and two Dublin locations. Menus and location information can be found at www.mypiada.com.

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