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La Piazza, Albuquerque, NM

In the space in Fashion Square (San Mateo at Lomas, northeast quadrant, lower level), there is a new Italian bistro called La Piazza. Owned by Gordon Schutte, it opened in late July 2001. We tried it in its third and fourth week of business, and it was pretty well-organized.

They brag about having the city's first antipasto bar. This amounts to a bed of ice with eight or ten choices displayed. You pick four and they make you up a plate. Some of the choices I remember:

Some of the noteworthy entrees I've tried, or stolen bites from:

The starch was usually mashed potatoes (one week it was new red potatoes with skins left in), and the vegetable is the usual bistro sautee of Julienned zucchini, bells, and so on. I don't care if this part of the meal is fancy so long as it's well-executed, and these were.

There are several interesting salads. I was pretty taken with the spinach salad with pancetta maple dressing, boiled egg, and candied orange zest.

Desserts are what you'd expect: varied and in some cases rich. My favorite of the few I've tasted so far: the capuccino cheesecake and the mango gelato. Although I'm not usually that crazy about strawberries, some of the strawberries that showed up on desserts were amazingly sweet, perhaps sugar-glazed, but certainly perfectly ripe.

Service was not letter-perfect (one night I had to ask for a fork and ask for a water refill), but I'm willing to give them some slack given the recent opening.

All of the people I've dined with or sent to La Piazza have been happy. Big menu, interesting dishes, quality ingredients, excellent preparation. I still think Seasons and Scalo have a slight edge in creativity and service, but the new kid on the block is looking like a competitor.

Next: Trattoria Trombino (restaurant), Albuquerque, NM
See also: Shipman's favorite Albuquerque Italian restaurants
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John W. Shipman,
Last updated: 2001/09/06 03:09:33