Chipotle’s Italian Lovechild: Piada – Canton, Ohio
1) Start ‘Build a Meal’ assembly line.
2) Pick a protein.
3) Pick whether you want that protein on a salad, bed o’ carbs, or all wrapped up.
4) Add desired toppings.
5) Pay and eat.
If this sounds like Chipotle, you’re almost right. It’s Piada Italian Street Food, so Chipotle-like in both concept and atmosphere you might forget which one you’re at until you take a bite.
Piada is a growing Columbus, Ohio-based chain serving up Italian food, from the same owners that brought us Brio and Bravo. (And little ol’ Canton got one, YAY!) As far as I can tell, Piada is still an ‘Ohio thing,’ but it’s a chain destined to catch on here and beyond.
It’s part of the up-and-coming ‘fast casual’ concept that I love for lunch with friends and weeknight dinner with the fam: fresh, quick, healthy, and not too expensive. Think grilled salmon, fresh salads, pasta made to order, for 10 bucks or less. Piada gets bonus points for the pleasant atmosphere – clean lines, modern lighting and an open kitchen.
Piada has quickly become a fave for my lunch crew at work; it’s an excellent addition to our “where should we eat today?” list, and we’ve been – I kid you not – probably 10 times since it opened. Yikes.
Piada offers soups, chopped salads, pasta, and, of course, their signature piadas – all ordered up ‘Chipotle’ style. The first time I went through the line, I wanted to cry given all the choices – I was ordering for myself AND two kids. It was insane. But, it gets easier, I swear, especially if you don’t have kiddos like mine changing their minds mid-assembly line.
The ‘Italian Street Food’ part are the piadas: grilled thin crust dough (imagine a large flour tortilla) stuffed with your choice of pastas, veggies, meats, cheeses, and sauce. That’s an Italian burrito in my book….and a whole lot of carbs.
Having eaten through their menu…at least twice, maybe more, here are my faves:
- Chopped salad. If you’re like me, perpetually watching those evil carbs, try the chopped salads. They’re fantastic. You get your choice of protein, lettuce, and cheese (fresh mozz, shredded mozz, feta, shaved parm), about a dozen or so fresh veggies, and a few dressings, including a deelish ‘Skinny Vin’ option. The veggies make me happy: grilled artichokes, peppadew peppers, eggplant caponata, fresh or sundried tomatoes, black olives, etc.
- Piada sticks. Here’s what I do: take a healthy chopped salad, add an unhealthy piada stick on the side, so it all works out to ‘not that bad.’ A Piada stick is their thin crust dough, rolled, stuffed and grilled with your choice of three fillings – cheese, artichoke or pepperoni. I like the artichoke.
- Calamari Fritto Misto. This is a must try. They prepare it just right – not at all overcooked or rubbery – and it’s got a little heat from Italian peppers. A side is only $5 – a steal!
- Soup. Both the lobster bisque and tomato basil are rich, creamy, and totally fattening. Enjoy it now, work out later.
Price: I usually spend $8-10, but you can get out the door for as little as $6.75.
Menu: Eat healthy or ridiculously unhealthy – it’s up to you. I’ve yet to go in for the sausage alfredo pasta, but it’s there…waiting for me, someday. Regardless, you’re sure to get fresh ingredients that are hard to come by for the price.
Pro tip: I’ve seen people carefully assemble complementary flavors or get crazy out of control with their creations. I’d recommend the first approach. While all the flavors more or less match, I can’t imagine a huge pile of everything tastes very good.
Go with coworkers. Take the kids. Meet Mom before hitting the mall. Get takeout. Piada’s a concept that simply works.
On the web:
www.mypiada.com – As far as restaurant sites go, theirs is TOPS. They have a pretty good mobile site, although I cannot imagine using their online ordering system via mobile. Yikes!
twitter.com/mypiada – I’ve tweeted at ‘em a couple of times and they’ve tweeted back. Love that.