Thursday, February 21, 2013

Cleveland: Piada Italian Street Food

I've eaten a lot of Italian food in my lifetime, but never have I heard the word piada. I had absolutely no idea what "Italian Street Food" was. I had never heard the term. Do you know what it means? Didn't think so.

The old shopping center at Cedar and Warrensville Center Rd (where the old Anatolia was) got torn down a couple of years ago. Now standing on the old site is a brand new shopping center. Piada Italian Street Food (PISF) is the most intriguing of all the new food establishments now housed there. Started by Columbus native Chris Doody (former co-owner of Bravo Brio Restaurant group), Piada is a relative unknown to most everyone I talk to.

Having now been indoctrinated, I can tell you that a piada is basically an Italian burrito. If you were to switch the clean, sleek, white decor of Piada for corrugated metal and lacquered plywood, you would be in a Chipotle. It is a very similar setup to the Chip - very similar. Both have  style of service, choices, and level of value that are nearly identical.


Decor and Space 5/5
As a designer all I can say is "wow". I don't know who did their concept, but PISF is by far the sharpest interior architecture I've seen in a fast casual restaurant. The space just screams modern Italian design. Everything is pretty much some variation of white or some kind of play on negative space using light and shadows. I was genuinely blown away at how well put together the visual concept was.

Food  1/5
Here's the summarized version. A piada is the equivalent of an Italian tortilla. Just like Chipotle, you can forgo the piada and just get everything in a bowl (my recommendation). Anything they have on Italian food, they have as a choice for your piada/bowl. Unlike Chipotle, many of these combinations simply don't work. My normally reliable food karma failed me miserably during this trip.

 I ordered a piada with Italian Sausage, Diavalo sauce (spicy), angel hair pasta, fresh mozzarella, peppers, and onions. Salty....very salty. Was it my fault? Sure, I picked all of the items. I'm sure if I were to go multiple times I would eventually figure out a combo that works for me. At Chipotle I know what all of those things taste like on their own, and I know what will probably work with what. Here? You have no clue until you actually taste it.

 Piada Italian Street Food!

Service 1/5
Unfortunately you're going to have to run, walk, slowly limp this gauntlet at least once to know what the whole thing is about. (It took me 25 minutes from the door to the cash register.) The staff seemed incredibly disorganized and overwhelmed. Usually you can tell who the manager is; in this case I had no clue (and neither did they). The line was literally backed out the door because they were completely out of sausage, chicken, etc. (To their credit the cooks kept testing the meat to check if it was up to temp. To their discredit, open ovens don't cook meat very quickly.) The best advice I've heard came from Ben over at Heights Eats: Order it for carry-out. You've been warned.

Overall 2.5/5
I could easily drill this place and say skip it. The fact is, the concept as a whole is pretty new and as time goes on I'm sure they'll work out many of those service and food related problems. I would like to see them devise some 'suggested combinations', otherwise there is always the very realistic possibility that you'll end up with too damn many flavors in one dish.

Piada Italian Street Food
13947 Cedar Rd
South Euclid, OH 44118
(216) 862-8872

Piada Italian Street Food on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. My sense is that the management tends to take suggetions and work on them. They now have a list of combinations at They also introduced an arrabiata sauce which is more flavorful, spicy and less salty than the diavolo. We've been there 5-6 times at least. I've started really liking the salmon, particularly in salad form, with no other sauce besides balsamic. As you point out, the biggest potential problem is adding too much stuff (although I pretty much always include spinach, arugula, tomatoes, pancetta, eggplant and artichokes in everything I order).