Months ago I first heard that the small (but quickly growing) Columbus, Ohio based chain of restaurants, Piada Italian Street Food, would soon open a location very close to my house in Cincinnati. I waited anxiously for it to open and it finally did a few weeks ago.
Anyone familiar with Chipotle or any of the other fast casual order at the counter style restaurants should find Piada’s concept very familiar. There are three options to start with the namesake piada, a pasta bowl, or a chopped salad bowl. Each of them are then customized with your choice of seven proteins, six sauces or salad dressings, followed by any of over a dozen vegetable and cheese toppings.
In addition to a variety of Pepsi products, imported Italian sodas and teas are also available ($1.75 small). I tried the lemon tea and found it to be very sweet. Typically I drink unsweetened tea, but I actually enjoyed this. I couldn’t drink more than one cup of it, but free refills are available.
I really wanted to try the piada on my first visit, but since my wife beat me to it, I decided to try the pasta bowl with grilled chicken ($6.98). The only pasta available is angel-hair, but the other options are plentiful. I had my bowl topped with the spicy diavolo sauce, artichokes, Parmesan, red onions, spinach, and sun-dried tomatoes. The sauce was very good and all the toppings were fresh. The bowl provided a ton of food and I enjoyed it very much. My only complaint was that it was hard to mix the ingredients together with somewhat clumpy pasta.
My wife ordered the piada also with grilled chicken ($6.98). The piada shell is a very thin flour dough crust that is stone grilled upon ordering. It is then topped with a variety of ingredients and rolled up like a burrito. Though my wife did not, I’ve seen some people add pasta to their piada, which I will definitely have to try in the future. Many of the ingredients she chose were similar to what I put in my pasta bowl, so the taste was pretty much the same. However I did like the crisp piada shell, which is easy to simply pick up and eat. No silverware required.
There isn’t a kids menu, but we found that the piada stick ($1.95) was perfect for our soon to be three-year-old son. There are three choices pepperoni, Parmigiano Reggiano, or artichoke. We went with the Parmigiano and it was an excellent choice! He didn’t eat the entire thing and I was very happy to enjoy his leftovers. It is served with a Parmesan dipping sauce, but it is not needed.
We had a very nice time on our first visit to Piada and we will definitely be back soon. With so many ingredients available for customizing your meal, I don’t think I will grow tired of the Italian street food anytime soon.