Piattini Wine Cafe is a restaurant that offers up a concept I love: small plates. The menu is full of cold and hot small plates (or piattini), salads that can be ordered full size or smaller, and larger second courses, just to balance things out. I love small plates because I am indecisive and smaller portions (and prices) enable me to order a variety of different dishes to try. I had been to Piattini a couple of times years ago and remembered enjoying my experiences there. Recently, I was invited in for dinner and brought a friend along to see what Piattini is up to now.
The restaurant has an almost wine-cave-like atmosphere. It's one of those set below street level on Newbury Street. It's cozy, consisting of only two small rooms and a patio. It was a little chilly the night we went, so we opted to sit inside.
As I glanced at the drink menu, I was immediately reminded of a fun thing Piattini does: wine flights. There are preset white and red wine flights, or for a few dollars more, you can choose from any of the wines on the menu and put together your own flight. I decided to get the Fresco Bianco flight, which includes Pala Vermentino Crabilis, Veramonte Sauvignon Blanc, and Domaine Schlumberger Pinot Blanc. The Vermentino is a crispy, dry white from Sardinia. I enjoyed its balanced acidity. The Sauvignon Blanc is from Chile and features flavors of melon and citrus. It's supposed to have a crisp finish, but I didn't find it crisp enough -- maybe I'm just used to my New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs. The last wine, the Pinot Blanc, is slightly lemony with a somewhat dry, crisp finish. Our food came out in three rounds, so I ended up pairing each small glass with one of the rounds.
We started with the arugula salad, a mixture of artichoke hearts, arugula, and Parmigiano Reggiano with a lemon-oil dressing and some seasoned, chopped fresh tomatoes on the side. The salad wasn't very interesting until we scooped up bites of tomato with it, making me wonder why the tomatoes were on the side rather than mixed in.
We also shared some mixed olives and imported cheeses from the cold piattini menu. Our waitress brought out a sheet with a bunch of cheeses listed and she checked off the ones we were getting. Under each cheese name was a description of its flavors. I thought this was really cool and it enabled us to learn a little more about the cheeses we were eating. We had Pecorino Toscano, a firm, nutty, dense cheese with a mild finish; Manchego, a sheep's-milk cheese with a mild, slightly briny, nutty flavor; and Auribella, a semihard, robust cow's-milk cheese.
For our next course, we sampled some hot piattini: arancini and butternut squash ravioli. The arancini were described as risotto stuffed with mozzarella, but we found Gorgonzola in ours in addition to the mozzarella. Gorgonzola is a strong cheese that not everyone loves, so it would have been nice to know that it was inside the arancini. That aside, the arancini were good, with slightly creamy interiors with crispy exteriors.
The butternut squash ravioli transported me to fall, with warm sugary notes from apple cider and brown sugar, along with some savory sage. These verged on a little too sweet, so it was good to have just a small plate of them.
For main courses, we got the popular Bolognese and the Melito. The Bolognese comes with homemade fusilli -- tight curls of pasta -- and a rich, meaty sauce. We both thought it was delicious and incredibly hearty.
The Melito is a pasta dish with sundried tomato, artichoke, and white wine sauce, which doesn't sound very exciting or unusual, except that the pasta is a homemade tomato fettuccine. It is lightly sweet and provides plenty of tomato notes in a non-red-sauce dish.
We were too full to order any dessert, but our waitress brought us a gorgeous hunk of homemade tiramisu and we couldn't resist trying a few bites. I'm so glad I made a little room for it because the tiramisu was just perfect. It was soft without being soggy and it had a lightness to it while packing so much flavor. It was just the right note to end the meal on.
Overall I enjoyed what we tried at Piattini, but I wasn't blown away by any of the dishes (except maybe that tiramisu). It's a solid choice for those wandering down Newbury Street looking for a place to sample small plates and sip a glass (or flight) of wine.
This dinner was complimentary, but as always, my opinions are my own.
Have you been to Piattini Wine Cafe?