Dorian Hargrove 8 p.m., Dec. 11
Piatti Ristorante, La Jolla classic
This restaurant may not have changed much in recent years, but it doesn't seem to need it.
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.
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.
Butternut squash ravioli ($16.95) received a much heavier treatment, being dressed with a walnut cream sauce and lots of wintry sage.
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.