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Piadina: The Perfect West Village Italian Cave

I’ve lived around the block from Piadina for over a year now and walked by it many times, commenting on how charming it looks. Not until this week did I find the time or inspiration to spontaneously walk in for dinner with a close friend of mine, Nancy, who was in town for just a few days. In the mood for a quiet place where we could catch up on all the latest news that was also inexpensive enough to keep some dollars in our pockets for the holiday season, Piadina seemed like the ideal spot. And, indeed it was.

A cellar-like space just off 6th avenue in the West Village, this rustic Italian restaurant just about oozes charm, particularly when it’s frosty outside. In the winter, bright red and white Christmas lights line the short stairway down into the brick subterranean space. It’s small and reservations are only taken for parties of 4 or more, so if it’s just two of you, think about noshing on the early side. The narrow room is unfinished and murky, but in a distinctly seductive way. Brightly colored cooking pots are stacked haphazardly on wooden shelves; nondescript lighting fixtures and simple tealight candles shed warm golden light over the mostly fashionable crowd; plain wooden tables and chairs are no fuss, no muss. Though a trend in downtown restaurants of late, rustic chic has been Piadina’s shtick for over a decade now and the design concept works wonderfully for this refreshingly simple spot.

Piadina’s menu is short, presented plastered to what appears to be a refurbished clipboard. With only a few appetizers, pastas, entrees, and wines by the glass, selection is limited. However, when each dish coming out of the kitchen has a hearty soulfulness to it, abbreviated options hardly seem to matter. The hefty dishes of bold and flavor-packed pasta are the way to go when the weather is as it is now, bone-chilling. The tagliatelle al ragu is hand-made and perfectly chewy and tender; served in an all meat, no play ragu sauce heavy on the salt and oil, this dish isn’t for the faint-hearted and yet it’s exactly what’s needed to warm from the inside out. Decidedly funkier is the orrechiette alla salsiccia, a heady and complex dish prepared al dente; the combination of the salty and nutty ground sausage and bitter broccoli rabe is complicated and satisfying. Aside from belly-filling pastas, the comparatively wide array of starters are rich and flavorful, ranging from gorgonzola polenta to asparagus with fluffy ricotta and prosciutto, mussels with wine and zesty peppers, and thinly sliced beef carpaccio with salty parmesan cheese. Entrees are classic Italian: pork tenderloin with marsala sauce and herbed polenta, grilled steak with aromatic rosemary, chicken stuffed with broccoli rabe, sundried tomatoes and gooey fontina cheese.

Piadina’s food isn’t fancy or overwrought, particularly original or creative; yet, it’s damn tasty, seductive, and heart-warming. The simple and unfussy atmosphere makes it perfect for a relaxed date night or a fun and casual night out with your friends. Low prices and large portions ensure great value for dinner in the village and make Piadina viable for repeat visits, if you’re seeking something reliable and easy.

Perfect For: neighborhood eats, NYU grad students, pasta and cheese lovers, a cozy date, wine lovers not wine snobs, confident solo diners

Piadina on Urbanspoon

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