A Taste of Regional Italy at Piattino- Summit, NJ
It’s very rare for me not to enjoy an Italian meal. With New Jersey and New York hosting more Italian restaurants than most places across the country, it’s easy to come across a decent dish. While I love to eat Italian food whenever I can, the restaurants I visit also tend to be a dime a dozen. My general feeling is that once you try one, you’ve tried them all. I shouldn’t paint such a broad brush but, as a large majority, most Italian eateries serve the same overplayed Americanized meals that we have come to accept as “true” Italian food. I don’t downplay that I enjoy these dishes, I even cook them myself. But, let’s face it; some of the dishes we chow down on aren’t even popular across the pond. Our ancestors who came over often mixed together American and Italian ingredients to produce these popularized dishes. Or, as time wore on, only the Italian dishes brought over that pleased other Americans’ palates were what stayed in favor.
I have been to a handful of regions in Italy and they all have very different cuisines. Many of their most consumed dishes tend to be local favorites that we Americans are not familiarized with. That’s where today’s restaurant review steps in. I was asked to come in and try out Piattino, a new Italian bistro in Summit, NJ. Piattino offers up some of the Italian American dishes diners are accustomed to along with celebrating the regional diversity of Italy in other menu items that they offer.
The restaurant is located in busy downtown Summit; nestled next to other neighborhood restaurants and across from the train station. The dining room is long and bright with large storefront windows. The tone is relaxed but with urban and modern tones. The walls have large printed messaging in Italian. The chairs are a hybrid of outdoor lawnchair on top and casual studded leather on the bottom. After being seated, our checkered topped waitress drops off an iPad loaded with the wine menu to our marble topped table. While we browse the multiple menus, thin pizza bread is dropped off in a paper-lined basket to nosh on.
After placing our order for a Negroni ,a Barbera wine, and a mixed charcuterie platter; we start to dive into the food menus. We’ve also be given this month’s regional inspirations on a separate menu to review. This month Veneto is the region being featured. While these dishes look great, we have set our eyes on some other interesting pastas. But, I wouldn’t be a first time diner without asking some menu questions. I ask the waitress what maltagliati is as it relates the duck dish on the menu. I find out that it is a peasant style pasta that is thin, wide, and tends to be the pasta scraps left over when households make other shapes, etc. I am sold on the dish. In doing a little homework after our visit, I found that this type of pasta originates in the Reggio Emilia region of Italy (Which I have visited and is one of my all-time favorite food regions). My husband asks about an Umbria inspired dish that includes braised rabbit and chilis. After finding out more about the mild Calabrian chilis, he places his order to try this meal.
Our antipasto platter arrives first. We selected a Braesola (thin air dried and cured beef), Parmesan, and Gorgonzola cheeses that are paired with a jam, olives, grapes, and some toasted bread to top. Braesola is a favorite of mine that is hard to find stateside and pairing it with the sharp, crumbly parmesan is a perfect bite. The cheese platter is a very shareable size and although two of us were able to polish it off, we struggled to find room for dinner.
Once our pastas arrived our stomachs started to find some space because there was no way this meal was going to waste. The maltagliati was mixed with tender braised and shredded duck, mushrooms, a savory marsala style sauce and topped off with a sunny side up egg. I loved the wide noodle shape in this dish. It was a hearty, homestyle Italian meal that was very unique to past experiences I have encountered. My husband’s dish was just as inspired. The homemade pappardelle was al-dente and mixed with bits of braised rabbit, white beans, mushrooms, stewed tomatoes and a hint of Calabrian chili. It was similar to a broth-less summer stew. To say that we were pleased with our meals is putting it lightly. Both of our bowls were overflowing and we did the best we could to finish. There were still small heaps of pasta remaining but, we were happy to know that we would have lunch portions to indulge in the next day.
Sadly, we were just too full to take part in dessert. But, I can say that I saw the tables next to us order the trio of gelato and it arrived in cute little cones. Based on the appearance and the murmurs of praise we could hear, it seems like a good bet for our next visit. We were, however, treated to an aperitif of limoncello. It’s a tradition that truly transports me to Italy. This limoncello was on the tart side, I prefer mine a little sweeter, but it was a classic way to end a truly Italian meal.
Piattino has two local locations in Summit and Mendham. I don’t know about you but after writing this, I’m already thinking about my next visit. If you want to see more of their regional menu and learn more about their approach you should definitely visit their website: http://www.piattinonj.com
…all for the love of the dish