bis·tro (bis-troh) noun, plural bis·tros (bis-trohz)
1. a small, modest, European-style restaurant or café.
2. a small nightclub or restaurant.
Question: When is a bistro more than just a bistro?
Answer: When the bistro concept is stretched beyond its traditional definition.
Such is the case with Piatti Italian Bistro and Bar, the new restaurant concept launched by the owners of Il Panificio.
Perhaps underscoring the restaurant’s intended characteristics, Piatti, which is attached to Il Pancifico in Gulf Gate, stands apart from other buildings in the area. Sleek in design and appearance with a large glass front, natural lighting, high ceilings, marble surfaces, wood, glass and metal, this combination creates a contemporary, urban-like setting in a non-downtown locale. Even though the initial impressions of the dining space may appear somewhat hard, two prominent design features --- the glass-lit bar and the well-stocked, glass-walled wine room --- do soften the space.
The menu is broad but casual, offering a selection of appetizers, salads, pizza, pastas, meat, poultry and seafood entrees with homemade breads and pastries. In other words, no one will go hungry from lack of choice! For our meals we chose the following:
- Classic Caprese: Fresh mozzarella and vine-ripened tomatoes stacked with fresh pesto. $8.00 First-rate --- firm tomatoes, creamy mozzarella, tasty pesto.
- Tuscan Wedge Salad: Wedge of crisp iceberg lettuce, crispy pancetta chips, crumbled gorgonzola, diced red onion and tomatoes drizzled with a creamy roasted garlic dressing. $8.00 (with entree $5.00) A big winner; fresh, full of flavor and crunch.
- Salad Piatti: Fresh assorted greens, onion, tomatoes, giardiniera and olives, tossed in a creamy roasted garlic dressing or house vinaigrette. $5.00 (with entree $3.00) A “value” salad ... fresh, good portion and the right price!
- White Bean Piatti: White kidney beans, fresh arugula, sliced scungilli calamari and shrimp tossed in fresh lemon and olive oil. $11.00 Great presentation but the taste was disappointingly bland. Needs additional spice.
- Pizza Margherita: Thin crust topped with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and fresh basil. $9.00 The fresh tomatoes added a nice flavor but reduced the crispiness of the crust. We know the quality of Il Panificio’s pizza and will try a different one on another visit.
- Penne Carbonara: Fresh penne pasta tossed in a light cream sauce. $14.00 A good-sized portion, rich, creamy, and flavorful. Very satisfying; can easily be shared by two.
- Toscana: Cod baked and topped with a rustic sauce of crushed tomatoes, green olives, onions and garlic with a balsamic reduction. $14.00 Fresh, flaky cod filled with flavor … perfect for a cooler weather meal. Reminds me of New England.
- Signature Trout: Macadamia nut-crusted filet grilled with sun-dried tomatoes and fresh basil, finished with a lemon butter sauce. $19.00 Good-sized portion of moist, fresh fish. The veggies were firm and tasty.
- Fresco Trout: Pan-seared and finished with diced tomatoes, onions, lemon, white wine, white truffle oil and topped with an arugula salad. $19.00 Ample portion, good combination of flavors and textures.
- Cannoli: Two cannolis per serving $6.00
Flaky shell with the perfect filling, good for sharing. Not too sweet, just right.
Piatti Italian Bistro and Bar provides an interesting set of contrasts: 1) the urban chic setting in a non-downtown locale, 2) the sophisticated contemporary dining space with a casually approachable menu and 3) a higher-end experience without a higher-end bill. The restaurant claims to be "an eclectic venue that brings a Euro style atmosphere like nothing you have experienced." We agree; the experience is unique.
Piatti Italian Bistro and Bar
6630 Gateway Ave.
Sarasota, FL 34231