Ristorante La Piola

Tonight I went out with my friend for his belated birthday celebration to a local Italian restaurant that is literally stumbling distance from my house – Ristorante La Piola.

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As you can see, it’s a quaint, unassuming restaurant. I drive past it pretty much every day, and have lived near it for over 4 years, yet tonight was the first night I checked it out. Crazy, no? I had always meant to wander down, but never got around to it, instead meeting people at many of the downtown restaurants.

La Piola serves Italian Cuisine, focusing on locally grown/sourced products – the back of the menu gives you the extensive list of the local companies they use for everything from their produce to meat to wines, etc. The chef & owner, Cory Pelan, is also the head of the Island Chef’s Collaborative – a group of food industry people on Vancouver Island who promote and use sustainable local foods.

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Although the patio would have been lovely to sit on, it was just too hot out when we arrived, and the sun was in the wrong spot to have a great dining experience out there. The waiter seated us at a great table though, looking out through the wide open floor to ceiling windows – perfect compromise. After ordering some drinks (San Pellegrino for myself, Phillips Brewery IPA for my friend), we were presented with some freshly baked bread from the adjoining Italian Bakery with olive oil & balsamic vinegar for dipping.

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The darker bread actually had blueberries (I think?) baked into it, but it was still really nice with the olive oil/balsamic dip. We shared those 5 slices of bread equally.

We both decided to order pasta for our meals. I went with the Gnocchi, served in a simple brown butter and fresh sage sauce with parmesan.

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My friend with the Carbonara – he may have mixed his dish up a bit before he presented it to me to take a picture. Silly goof.

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The gnocchi were outstanding. I don’t think I can ever eat packaged gnocchi again after eating this. Each piece was like a pillow of joy, as it melted in your mouth. Although it looks like there is alot of sauce, you really only got a very thin coating on each piece, so you had the perfect balance of flavours. So simple, but so delicious. And surprisingly light – I ate the whole portion (save for a few gnocchi my friend stole off my plate), but never felt over stuffed as one might when eating a large pasta meal. I would have no qualms about ordering this dish again.

I did have a bite of the carbonara as well – again, very simple, but very delicious. The sauce was very light, unlike some carbonaras I’ve seen. I’m not really a pasta/Italian connoisseur, so I don’t have alot to compare it to, but from what I remember, they often seem to be in a very heavy creamy sauce. This one was not. And I assume by the clean plate at the end, that my friend thoroughly enjoyed it.

Our waiter suggested gelato for dessert – the perfect choice for such a warm evening. I knew that both the Italian bakery and La Piola have gelato, so I was hoping to try some out this evening. The flavour was hazelnut chocolate. We decided to share.

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This was THE. BEST. GELATO. I kid you not. It was so creamy and tasted just like a hedgehog chocolate. My friend isn’t a big dessert person, so he had only planned on having a few bites, but he definitely had his half of the bowl. The cookie on top looked nice, but I would have been fine with just the gelato. Now that I know how good their gelato is, I feel I might be down there a few more times this summer to get my fix – hey, it’s closer than my other favourite ice cream places, that’s for sure!

I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to try out La Piola, and now I’m moving in just over 2 months time! Such a little gem in my neighbourhood. I will definitely need to go back at least one more time, as there were other dishes on the menu I was eyeing up – I just had my heart set on the gnocchi this evening. If you are in Victoria and looking for a great Italian restaurant, make the short trip out of downtown to La Piola, it will be well worth your while 🙂

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Categories: Dinner, Restaurants

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14 Comments on “Ristorante La Piola”

  1. June 4, 2009 at 11:56 pm #

    Glad the food tasted great!

  2. June 5, 2009 at 4:32 am #

    That place looks right up my alley! Gnocchi and gelato… perfect!

  3. June 5, 2009 at 5:54 am #

    That place sounds fantastic!! The gelato looks incredible! Glad you discovered this place!

  4. June 5, 2009 at 6:01 am #

    Better late than never, right? Gnocchi is a favorite of mine, as well as gelato. It’s so fun to find a restaurant (Italian) that actually resembles a real Italian restaurant! Have a wonderful day.

  5. June 5, 2009 at 6:20 am #

    What a fantastico meal! My parents are both Italian so I grew up with that stuff. I’m really jealous of that fresh bread and gelato!

  6. June 5, 2009 at 6:43 am #

    The gnocchi looks fantastic! Your description is awesome, too 😀 I love the gelato picture– that looks delicious, too! I’m glad you had such a great time 🙂

  7. June 5, 2009 at 7:10 am #

    Oh that lovely gnocchi! Looks like little pillows of doughy heaven. Sweet.

  8. June 5, 2009 at 7:52 am #

    I can almost taste the gelato! What is hedgehog chocolate?

  9. June 5, 2009 at 9:02 am #

    That looks so nice!

  10. June 5, 2009 at 9:24 am #

    Oh I love finding restaurants like that! Great eats! And bonus on using local suppliers. 🙂

  11. June 5, 2009 at 11:09 am #

    always the way that closest places are the ones you rarely go to- glad you went. It looks delicious! I forgot gnocchi even existed…good stuff 🙂

  12. June 5, 2009 at 1:18 pm #

    your pictures are beautifullllll!! I want pasta now.. but clearly there is NO way I am hungry after my HUGE lunch!!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. New Foods Spotlight « from french fries to flax seeds - June 7, 2009

    […] last, we have a bottle of San Pellegrino Sparkling Water. After having some with my meal at La Piola this week, it reminded me of how much I enjoy a nice glass of sparkling water to fancy up a meal, […]

  2. Cookies? « from french fries to flax seeds - June 8, 2009

    […] came out maybe a month or so ago? I’ve been eyeing up all the Purdy’s ice creams, but after my amazing hazelnut gelato last week, this was the obvious flavour […]

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