Piatto Ristorante, the Galleria-area staple of classic Italian-American fare, recently moved its second location from Royal Oaks to an all new building in the Heights.
Piatto owner John Marion Carrabba tells CultureMap that his family has a long history in the neighborhood. His great uncle once owned a fruit stand not far from his new location.
"We looked at 15 spots," before deciding on this building. Carrabba says. "The upstairs will make you fall in love with the building." He's referring to the event space on the building's roof that provides a dramatic view of the downtown skyline to the east.
Piatto doesn't serve cutting edge cuisine, but it's solid stuff. Who's ever said no to a plate of buttery, garlicky shrimp over pasta?
The self-described "hands on owner" promises that diners will find a lot to like inside, too. The dining room has a clean look, with wooden tables, brick walls and concrete floors. Outside, the covered, 40-seat patio is dog-friendly, which Carrabba expects to appeal to both the owners of the lofts that are directly above him and foot traffic from the surrounding neighborhood.
Dishes should be familiar to anyone who's visited the Galleria location during its 13-year history. Carrabba describes the cuisine as "Southern Italian homestyle," although the presence of jumbo lump crab meat on the restaurant's signature asparagus appetizer is probably more Gulf Coast than Mediterranean Sea. Housemade sausage and pizza are classic Italian comfort food. Other dishes are named for family members or longtime customers, which contributes to the family-friendly atmosphere.
The new location also offers an expanded beer and cocktail selection to further appeal to the neighborhood.
I sampled several dishes during a pre-arranged visit. Piatto doesn't serve cutting edge cuisine, but it's solid stuff. Who's ever said no to a plate of buttery, garlicky shrimp over pasta?
Carrabba says he tries to "touch every table" and provide a "fine dining experience without fine dining clothes." During my visit, I watched Carrabba work the room, greeting customers by name. Some of his Galleria regulars have made their way to the new spot, and neighborhood residents have already made multiple visits.
With a menu of classic comfort food and a comfortable, welcoming atmosphere, Piatto seems poised to replicate the long-term success of its Galleria location for a new audience.