Piccoli Piatti is just 'one of those places'. If you're not familiar with the term, 'one of those places' refers to a damn fine eatery that generally wins at being incredible in all kinds of occasions. To illustrate, let's pretend you're about to ask someone on a first date. Where do you suggest taking them? Too casual a restaurant and they'll think you're cheap. Too formal and they'll think you're desperate for something else altogether. Too lame and they'll think you're… well, lame. Piccoli Piatti is just 'one of those places' that sits somewhere between a no-pressure casual drink and a cosy dinner that is guaranteed to knock off some serious socks.
In fact, the theory of 'one of those places' applies to basically any culinary situation, like ever, be it after-work drinks, family dinner with fussy relatives, birthday celebration with rowdy mates, a solitary nip of whiskey… whatever. In our instance, it was date night #402 and we dropped in one Thursday night to prove my theory.
For starters we tried the Calamari Fritti ($14), which was melt-in-your-mouth perfect and served with lemon halves in delightful little fabric bags that stop the juice from spraying everywhere, which I thought was both innovative and incredibly thoughtful. Also on the table was the Prosciutto Crudo di san Daniele ($16), which got props because it used my name in the title but also because the dry-cured ham was deliciously light and summery accompanied by grilled peach and fresh basil. A nod also goes to the Kingfish Crudo ($14) – a lively combination of raw kingfish, grapefruit, fennel cream and roe.
Moving on to main-land, the serving portion of the Salt Cod Risotto ($28) was big enough to share. Served with baby spinach, poached hen's egg and white truffle, it was delightfully creamy and not too salty, which I find is too often the issue with risotto. Not here, signore. I should also mention at this stage that the drink list is very on point, with an impressive cocktail list (the fresh Peach Bellini $14 has my heart) and a seamlessly blended selection of wines from across New Zealand and Europe.
I almost skipped dessert, but that would certainly have been a travesty. The fifteen or so minutes spent savouring spoonfuls of Vanilla Pana Cotta ($12) made me realise that when pana cotta is bad, it's unequivocally awful and when it's good, it's angels-singing-hallelujah-in-your-head good. This particular one was the latter. Made with real vanilla bean and perfectly creamy coupled with the slight bitterness of fresh raspberries and roasted peaches, let's just say Mamma freakin' Mia, this dish was my jam.
The friendly and knowledgeable staff made for the cherry on top of our bloated waistlines, as we wobbled out the door in the most satisfied state possible.