New to Pittsburgh, but commonly found in Ohio, is the Italian street food restaurant – Piada. Located along the University of Pittsburgh strip in Oakland, Piada adds some variety along the Mexican and burger joints.
It seemed like an eternity for its opening. For one reason or another, the opening date was delayed. Finally, a date was announced in January for a VIP opening to those selected from a registered list. I, unfortunately, was not selected, but my sorrows softened once I saw the line wrapped around the corner.
Word of the tasty and unique cuisine to the area was buzzing. I tried a couple times the next week to get lunch at Piada and time after time – a line was wrapped around the corner. Finally, I was informed of some valuable information. I had the power to order ahead of time online, cut the line and pick-up my food in a timely fashion – talk about a game changer.
First opening in 2010 and mostly focused in Ohio, the Italian street food strives to create fresh Italian food, with high quality ingredients using simplistic cooking techniques. Piada might be “fast food” but doesn’t sacrifice what sit-down dinner offers.
I’m lucky enough to work down the street from Piada so I’ve had the opportunity to sample several items on the menu.
The menu is divided into eight sections: Seasonal Specials, Piadas or thin Italian flatbreads, Salads, Pastas, Street Sides, Beverages, Desserts and the Kids menu.
I explored the menu and the first thing that struck my fancy was the Fall Steak Avocado Piada from the seasonal section. The thin flatbread was filled with steak, arugula, pancetta, fresh avocado, fresh mozzarella, pepitas, roasted butternut squash with spicy balsamic aioli swimming throughout.
It all was delicious. The pancetta and aioli really added a burst of flavor. All of the ingredients tasted fresh and had a nice presentation for technically fast food. As a person not partial to peppers, I even loved the taste of the pepitas.
For my next lunch, I doze into the normal Piada list. I went with the Chef’s Favorite Piada – might as well take a suggestion from the top dog. This item included a spicy diavolo sauce, romaine, sweet and spicy peppers, mozzarella, creamy parmesan and added chicken.
The flatbread again was delicious and the creamy parmesan really pulled it together, but the online ordering is deceiving. It lists that you may choose between calamari and chicken which seems to be included, but in actuality there an extra charge for the protein – but it is worth it.
Last, but not least, I tried the “create your own salad”. First, choose between a small or a regular size. The regular is a pretty sizable amount, so unless your starving, the small would suffice. With plenty of “no extra charge” items, I filled up the bowl. My salad included grilled chicken, arugula, feta, spinach, mozzarella, sundried tomatoes, pancetta, harvest grain salad and an apple cider vinaigrette to top it off.
Without even asking, the salad came with not one, but two containers of dressing. Unlike other apple cider vinaigrettes I’ve had, this one was only slightly sweet and had more of a seasoned taste. They were generous with the pancetta and chicken and the mix of nuts and grains was a nice addition. This was a salad that didn’t leave me hungry.
It’s been over a month since its Pittsburgh opening and around lunch time there is still a line out the door. Let that be a testament to its success and quality food.
Experience Pittsburgh, One Bite at a Time.