There was an error in this gadget

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Piola's and Other Great Fort Worth Patios

Spring is making the transition into summer, and people are looking for a great porch to dine and enjoy the weather.

My favorite porch in town is at Piola Italian Restaurant and Garden on the corner of Haskell and Mattison in Fort Worth. The restaurant is inside a little house and tucked in a neighborhood on the west side. It can be hard to find, but is worth the search. (Click for map).

It's even harder to find a place that has great food and a great patio that's not in a shopping center, which is why we love this place. The atmosphere is great inside and out. We went last weekend and enjoyed every bite of what we ordered. We can also be hard to please when it comes to the good-food-to-price ratio.

We started with the giant calamari. It was fried and smothered in parmesan cheese and a sweet, spicy chili sauce. My husband ordered the baked ziti. He gave me some. The noodles were perfectly cooked al dente, and the five cheeses were rich and flavorful. Last week, I had baked ziti at another Italian restaurant nearby that was nothing like this. Side note: the other place was half the price.

I was full on giant calamari and bread, so I ordered an appetizer for dinner—shrimp-stuffed portobellini mushrooms with mozzarella. Every bite was full of flavor. I'm not a fan of those restaurants that don't put the salt and pepper shaker on the table as if to say, 'my food is so amazing that you don't need to change a thing.' This place didn't have a salt or pepper shakers but they didn't need one. I was completely satisfied the way it was, because the ingredients offered sufficient flavor.

The cherry on top of this experience is that everything was piping hot when it came out. Not sure why it's so hard for places to get the food out hot, but I really appreciate it when they do.

Shrimp-Stuffed Portobellini
We split a fantastic bottle of chianti with our meal and the total bill (plus tip) was under $80. Good and hot food, great atmosphere, not too loud and a reasonable bill. We're definitely going back soon.

(Click on name for link to place page. Any more suggestions on patios?)
Joe T. Garcia's
Café Modern
Kimbell Art Museum's courtyard
Chadra Mezza
Rock Bottom
Lambert's (dinner and Sunday brunch only)
Winslow's Wine Café
Nonna Tata

Patios I hope to try soon and heard good things about ...
Hacienda San Miguel
Hottubs Back Porch Grotto (going there next week with some girlfriends!)
Ellerbe Fine Foods

I purposefully left some patios off this list because of cacophonous music or poor views. Loud music might be your thing, but nice shrubbery and the ability to hear my friends are key for my patio time. People watching is a plus as well. I also like the food at these places.