We arrived at a packed Piazza Italia a little after seven on a weeknight without a reservation. All of the outside tables were taken, but we were able to be seated immediately at a table right by the bar, so close in fact that I was looking over my shoulder constantly when waiters came for drinks in fear that one would inevitably find itself spilling on me. That didn't happen, but a wayward falling spoon did strike me a glancing blow. That said, I would still take the table again rather than wait to get seated, although some would not.
I think the relatively crowded table set-up makes Piazza Italia a less than perfect romantic dinner spot, but if you're not planning to propose and you just want a fun place to spend some time together, enjoy the buzz of a lively crowd and eat some really good Italian food, this is a good bet. In effect, if you're inside it's an Italian sports bar/restaurant with a soccer jersey theme and big screen televisions.
The food was really good. We started by sharing the Bruschetta Monferrina, which had a delicious mushroom, pancetta and cheese topping. One serving (six pieces) is more than enough for two people about to order main dishes. Somewhat strangely for an Italian restaurant, Spaghetti and Meatballs was the daily special, so I had it and it was very nice if not spectacular. My wife ordered the Pappardelle al Cinghiale (wild boar meat sauce) and was absolutely delighted. Her serving was huge and she couldn't finish it, but that's what I'm there for. When we return to Piazza Italia, I will order this dish.
We ordered a carafe of the house red, which was a Sangiovese and we enjoyed it too. The dessert menu looked tempting, but we were both completely full.
This felt like one of those dependable restaurants that people return to again and again. It delivers unpretentious good value and great food.
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