/ Shipman's Home Sweet Homepage
/ Site map
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
- My favorite was the anchovies. Forget all the over-salted
canned anchovies you've ever known. Imagine something pickled,
sort of like pickled herring, but with an exquisite firm
texture to the flesh.
- The roasted marinated vegetables, served cold, include slabs
of zucchini and bell pepper, a chunk of eggplant, and an onion
wedge. Very simple but a great way to show off the quality of
their produce---bursting with flavor.
- A sort of frittata, vegetables baked in a pie crust. Nice
subtle use of herbs, good balance between the vegetables and
- House marinated artichoke hearts. A lot firmer and fresher
tasting than the usual commercial offering in a jar, and
not so heavy-handed in the seasonings.
- The bruschetta, a small piece of toasted bread with herbed
goat cheese and a slice of Roma tomato, was fine, if not
- We didn't try some of the others like the assortment of
three cured meats, or the cheese tray.
Some of the noteworthy entrees I've tried, or stolen bites from:
- Lamb sirloin slices in a mushroom gravy in puff pastry.
Quite tender and flavorful meat, good rich gravy.
- Risotto with Arborio rice, fresh black truffle, and
Reggiano Parmigiano cheese. I couldn't taste much truffle
flavor, but I think that's forgiveable given the cost of
truffles. The dish had a pleasant woodiness to it, the
rice was cooked through but still nicely firm, and I thought
I detected just a hint of citrus to give it some presence.
- Salmon in a caper sauce. The fish was exquisitely
tender and the sauce worked very well with it, but without
hiding the nuances of the high-quality fish filet's flavor.
- Ahi tuni pan-seared with lemon caper butter. Since the
menu said `sushi grade', I ordered it rare. The outside 1/4" or so
was seared, and the entire rest of the filet was a nice pink,
about the traditional color for painting a baby girl's room.
Delicious, high-grade fish.
- A shrimp and scallop sautee with some really excellent
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
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
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
John W. Shipman,
Last updated: 2001/09/06 03:09:33