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Piattello Italian Kitchen reflects Chef Marcus Paslay’s commitment to scratch cooking. Photo by Lee Chastain.

Piattello Italian Kitchen, 5924 Convair Dr, Ste 412, FW. 817-349-0484. 7am-2pm and 5pm-9pm Sun-Thu, 7am-2pm and 5pm-10pm Fri-Sat. All major credit cards accepted.

 

In the scant month since Piattello Italian Kitchen opened its doors, Chef Marcus Paslay and his team have raked in enough gushing accolades to make even the least cynical alt-weekly critic suspicious. Despite the solid reputation of Paslay’s scratch-kitchen Americana at Clay Pigeon Food and Drink (2731 White Settlement Rd, 817-882-8065), the notion that a new project as ambitious as Piattello could launch without a single hitch in its get-up seemed too good to be true.

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Determined to see through the hype that invariably accompanies fresh pasta, I dragged my misgivings and a guest over for a weekday lunch. We were lucky to get a table without a reservation as the place has, improbable though it seems, already garnered a loyal clientele.

The Waterview location is spacious, trimmed in Tuscan reds and yellows, with an open kitchen and a prep station that extends into the dining area. The kitchen staff, tattooed and smiling, dress veal shanks within inches of ladies who lunch. Piattello, Italian for both “clay pigeon” and “little plate,” aims high with a small but varied menu of Italian trattoria classics that reflect Paslay’s commitment to scratch cooking.

My guest and I split an order of the calamari antipasto, a golden mound of expertly fried squid, sectioned into rings and tentacles and punctuated with the electric green of Castlevetrano olives. Fried calamari is a good dish to test whether a kitchen has got its act together — though not difficult to prepare, the timing has to be perfect. Piattello’s calamari was as good as any I’ve ever had. With nothing more than a squeeze of lemon, it would have made a fine meal itself. The addition of the sweet and sour (and very salty) olives was fun, but like the neon-orange Calabrian aioli served alongside, their success was more a visual treat than a needed accompaniment to the squid. A glass of dry prosecco would do wonders in staving off a sodium overload.

The salads carried past our table included a Gorgonzola iceberg wedge and a roasted beet and farro with fennel and mint. Either could have teased out a promise of a return visit, but we had come for the pasta. Our server, happy to offer recommendations, suggested the tagliatelle Bolognese as a popular favorite and the strozzapreti cacio e pepe (“priest-strangler,” pasta with cheese and pepper) as his personal best.

The priest lived to be strangled another day – we settled instead into a rich portion of Bolognese. A proper Bolognese has little relation to the tomato sauce with ground beef most of us grew up with. Piattello’s version was as proper as they come, with chunks of beef and Duroc pork glazed with a rich sauce of milk and spices. Tomatoes played only a supporting role in the production, with the lead going to the homemade ribbons of yolk-yellow tagliatelle that had a bounce like a private joke between friends. Hype and clichés be damned, pasta doesn’t get any better than this.

The funghi pizza was brimming with the kitchen’s homemade ricotta cheese, tangy and smooth, with a generous array of shiitake and miatake (hen-of-the-woods) mushrooms, and spiked with roasted leeks. After the richness of the pasta, the house sourdough crust, drizzled with olive oil and toasted in a wood-fired oven, was almost more than we could handle — but we did our best.

Our service was friendly and efficient, and area professionals will be glad for an upscale spot that can get you in and out in less than an hour. Piattello will be catering to residents of the Waterview development, too, with coffee service beginning at seven in the morning.

I had to concede that the place deserves every bit of the attention it has been getting, though diners will certainly be paying for quality. If Piattello suffers any, it will be because the lunch menu is a replication of the dinner menu, prices and all, with only a few entrées omitted. Until I’ve been back to try everything on the menu, however, it will take a lot more than a stiff check to keep me away.

Piattello Italian Kitchen
Calamari    $13
Tagliatelle Bolognese    $18
Funghi pizza    $16

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