Good news for fans of Italian food in Istanbul. The renowned eatery Piola – with restaurants all over the globe in both hemispheres – has just revamped its menu. Piola’s first branch in Turkey opened last year, in the Point Hotel Barbaros in Esentepe, and has become popular among Istanbul diners for its pizzas, pastas, antipasti, and meat and fish dishes. Now there are several tasty new additions to the restaurant’s already impressive menu.
Piola has a selection of several dozen different pizzas, featuring such unconventional ingredients as tuna, potatoes, and eggs, and not just mozzarella cheese, but also brie, gorgonzola, and ricotta. Piola also makes varieties of pizza both with and without tomato sauce (to all those self-described purists who would not deign to eat pizza without sauce, consider this: the tomato only became common in Italian cuisine in the 18th century, so tomato-less "white" pizza has an older lineage.) Now, two more pizzas have joined the Piola roster: Pompei, a pizza made with "explosively" hot Italian sausage, and Beirut, topped with zucchini, walnut, and dill.
Piola's smaller, but equally delicious repertory of pastas (including potato gnocchi) has likewise been augmented by the addition of Pappardelle Cortina, made with mushrooms, cream, and Grana Padano cheese. For less adventurous types, or fussy eaters, for whom pasta must be accompanied with tomato sauce, Piola's menu obliges with several kinds of tomato-covered spaghetti, maccheroni, and penne.
There is more to Italian food than pizza and pasta, of course. Chicken Piola, bearing the name of the restaurant, is a delicious dish of lemon-sautéed chicken breast, served with puréed celery, mushrooms, and asparagus. Chicken Ciccioli -- a nod, perhaps, to fusion cuisine by this otherwise Italocentric eatery -- is made with curry sauce and rice, giving it a decidedly Indian inflection.
For an appetizer, you could try old favorites like bruschetta, or the visually appealing, tri-color caprese (tomato, mozarella, and basil); or the restaurant's new, creatively-named Calvino salad, made with slices of sirloin steak. (Why the salad is named after Italo Calvino is anyone's guess.)
Piola's desserts called Monterosa and Montenero -- respectively made from panna cotta and strawberry sauce, and panna cotta and chocolate sauce -- are in line with their penchant for visual symbolism in their dishes. (The first name means "Rose Mountain," the second, "Black Mountain.") Their dessert menu now includes the always-popular profiteroles: Piola's version of the dessert, made with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce, is the perfect finale to a sumptuous meal at this restaurant.
To experience excellent Italian food in a chic, modernist setting, by all means try Piola. If you've already been there, and need an excuse to come back for another visit, now -- thanks to their new menu -- you have one.