by: Ron Bechtol
Some restaurants seem to twist in the wind, constantly in search of the next new thing. Alligator kale? You bet — at least until roasted cauliflower takes over as the darling of the day. And while we’re at it, let’s throw some pork belly on both of them. Piatti Quarry is not this kind of restaurant.
True, a look at the current menu suggests that a previous emphasis on locally sourced produce seems to have diminished. But otherwise a certain familiarity prevails. Pollo alla matone may now be described only (and less romantically) as “chicken breast grilled under a brick,” the locally raised, all-natural part of the description having been deleted, but it’s basically still the same appealing product. Personal favorite ravioli alla limone, stuffed with spinach and ricotta and sauced with a wine-lemon-cream sauce remains steadfast. With a variation on that lemon sauce firmly in mind, I moved into only slightly new territory for a recent visit.
Cannelloni at Piatti Quarry is filled with lobster and crab and napped with the lemon sauce embellished with capers and diced raw tomato (small portion $12.95, large portion $16.95), is an almost perfect dish — tender pasta, well-developed flavors, luxurious appearance. The only issue, and some might consider it altogether minor, is with the texture of the uniform filling: It would be encouraging to encounter a chunk of lobster from time to time. Just so you know, a small portion of two tubes is plenty for the average diner.
Especially if he or she (and it’s a mixed crowd at noon with businessmen coexisting happily with daddies taking kids to lunch and women chatting in groups) has ordered one of Piatti’s signature salads. Salads at Piatti Quarry are not only thoughtfully composed, but (and these, too, can be had in small or large size) they are generously portioned. A small baby spinach rendition with fried “tobacco” onion rings, romano cheese and a mellow balsamic vinaigrette might have made an entire meal on another day, with the ample serving of good bread and spicy olive oil dip filling in any gaps. Dessert didn’t seem necessary. But I ordered it anyway, wanting just a little more time in the light-filled, flower-accented space. The choice of a custard tart made with fresh lemon juice and served with pillowy whipped cream on the side will not come as a surprise; Piatti seems to have a way with the citrus, and the tart was no exception. Attentive service only adds a grace note to the experience.
The dining space at Piatti’s newest outpost in the Eilan development on IH- 10W has quite a different look, with more emphasis on the bar, and that location deserves investigation. But for those perfectly happy to keep revisiting Piatti Quarry, happy hour here is both a social experience and a way to sample well-priced appetizers such as the excellent vegetable fritto misto with, once again, limone—this time in the form of a lemon caper aioli.