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I got some great service the other day at Piatti (2182 Avendia de la Playa, 858-454-1589) in La Jolla Shores. It was that all too rare kind of evening where the entire staff at a restaurant is courteous, professional, lacking mock sincerity, and always timely. What can I say, I loved their attitude. Not only did I get a good, corner table without a reservation, but they treated the under-dressed guy with perfect gentility.

I had half a mind to stand up and give the entire place a little golf clap, what with it being in La Jolla and all.

The restaurant itself is also rather cozy. True, the decor was a touch white-on-white-on-white for my taste, but it had an appropriately beachy warmth that felt right since recent evenings have been chilly. The Reader’s own Naomi Wise identified Piatti as a sort of chain (there are a few others out in the world), and her initial review still holds fairly true.

The starchy, “pizza and pasta” menu neither astounded nor disappointed. Prices, on the whole, were on the low side of normal with almost every dish beneath the magical $20 benchmark. Only the chosen few, some heavy meat dishes, exceeded that price. Even sweetbreads, which can tend towards pricey, were kept in check at $14. Though my receipt stated I’d received “animelles” (a French euphemism for testicles!), I’m fairly sure the sweetbreads at Piatti were the usual thymus gland because animelles are reputedly chewy.

Still, talk about a brief shock!

Piatti’s sweetbreads had been diced up, breaded, and fried. I found the preparation inferior to cooking the organ whole because the texture was too bready and the sweet, buttery taste of the veal was obscured. The rich, mushroom gravy that surrounded them, however, was excellent.

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Of their pastas, I found the “vesuvio with broccoli” ($16.25) was the most novel dish. Shallots, garlic, and parmesan cheese loaded up the savory/salty end of things, but the inclusion of cherries inserted a pleasant sweetness.

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Butternut squash ravioli ($16.95) received a much heavier treatment, being dressed with a walnut cream sauce and lots of wintry sage.

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Both of the pasta dishes were rather good, but neither was executed with the kind of exacting precision that makes a really amazing plate of noodles. Still, they were good and, if Piatti’s service is always so commendable, the restaurant deserves its long-ish tenure. Not much has changed since Naomi’s visit years ago, and the whole thing is a little out of vogue, but Piatti is still doing well for itself.

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Comments

monaghan Feb. 21, 2013 @ 11:26 a.m.

Did this reviewer really go to Piatti's -- a place that looks, feels, sounds and smells like warm and golden Italia? These photos do not begin to do the food justice, but the service is very good, as reported. Otherwise, I don't know.

"Decor was a touch white-on-white-on-white...The whole thing is a little out of vogue...Long-ish tenure?" No mention of table linens, bright wall art, saltillo tile floors, gardens and patio, year-round packed house, great bread, congenial bar and twenty-four years in the same location?

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Ian Pike Feb. 21, 2013 @ 1:25 p.m.

Hey, it was good, but not great, and the service was good enough that I'd go back if I lived anywhere nearby. The fact of the matter is that the place is out of touch with the culinary here and now, although I don't think it's trying to be hip or anything. It is what it is and that totally works.

There are actually few better compliments than, "I wasn't nuts about the food but the service was so good I enjoyed my meal a lot." I've been hate-mailed for knocking local service standards before, but Piatti really helped hammer home the fact that good service is harder to come by than one might expect.

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monaghan Feb. 22, 2013 @ 12:55 p.m.

"Service" contributes to a good experience dining out and Piatti does deliver in this regard. Piatti also serves very good traditional Northern Italian food and is blessedly "out of touch with the culinary here and now" -- whatever that may be -- but you really don't address the excellent quality of the food, the pleasant (if noisy) ambience or the overall expense of the meal.

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Ian Pike Feb. 24, 2013 @ 3:26 p.m.

Well, the food was actually very average, as was the expense. There's not too much to say about either of those aspects. The most interesting part of the evening was the exemplary treatment I received, ergo that's what I talk about the most.

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