An International Pizza Phenomenon
Piola is an international chain of pizzerias, originally hailing from Treviso, Italy, but now with many restaurants in the USA, Mexico, Chile, Brazil and Argentina. However, it seems as they spread far and wide, they didn’t lose much of the supposed stereotypical Italian arrogance on arriving in Buenos Aires. Here’s a little example from the Piola website:
“Piola opened in Argentina in 1993, straight from Treviso, Italy. It revolutionized the Buenos Aires food scene to the point where the local press talks about pre and post Piola eras.“
A little dramatic, yes, but it’s all well and good that they are so sure about the groundbreaking quality of their food. Read on to see if Piola’s claims are strong, or if their exaggerations are nothing more than just that.
Stylishly Decorated Interior, Stylishly Slow Wait Staff
The surroundings and atmosphere are certainly not disappointing at Piola – it’s clearly hip, trendy, cool. Based in up-market Recoleta, pop-art adorns the walls, the long thin entrance bar is very stylish, there is a lovely little courtyard out the back (see picture below) - perfect for summer evening meals with friends, and of course, many of the thin young waiters and waitresses are as pleasant to look at as the surroundings.
Well, the wait staff had to be hired for something, because they certainly don’t do much waiting. The diners are the ones that have to wait at Piola. Service here can be painfully slow, starting with waiting to be acknowledged when seated, and continuing all the way through the night to the long-awaited arrival of the bill. Even by Buenos Aires standards, service is very slow and impersonal at Piola, so take that into concern when planning the rest of your evening.
The Pizza at Piola
Above is the small Quattro Formaggi, representative of the pizza at Piola which is, as you would expect, more traditionally Italian than the Argentine versions you get in most pizzerias in Buenos Aires (not that the Argentine versions are bad, try the pizza at Guerrin and Banchero for a more local style). Whereas those Argentine pizza versions are big on mozzarella and fluffy dough, Piola does a more understated Italian style (‘less is more’ for the toppings) that also goes down very nicely indeed.
It is pizza a la piedra, in that it is baked directly on the stone (piedra) floor of the oven (which just about can be seen in the next picture below, behind the chef) and a thin crust version of this style, although it is soft rather than crispy.
Piola Argentina: Nice Food, But a Little Pricey
Yes, the pizza is very nice, but it is a little on the caro (expensive) side. A small pizza for one may cost twice as much than many grande (large) pizzas at local spots. Also on the menu are pastas, including a nice but simple affair called Spaghetti Alla Crudaiola (fresh pasta, tomato, buffalo mozzarella, olive oil, basil and parmesan shavings), as well as coffee and desserts – all a bit overpriced. Nevertheless, it must be noted that BA blogger Robert says that the tiramasu at Piola is ‘to die for’ (see the 1st comment of that post, by Robert), so it may be worth a taste.
Location of Pizza Piola, Buenos Aires
Libertad 1078, between Av. Santa Fe & Marcelo T de Alvear, Recoleta
Tel: 4812 0690, Website: http://www.piola.it/