The Piola franchise is headquartered in Treviso in the Veneto region of Italy and was started by two brothers in 1986. One of the brothers married a Brazilian and moved to Brazil, where he opened eight Piola restaurants. "The menu has many Brazilian influences, and not only the Italian community in Houston has found us, but the Brazilians and other international communities have as well," says Michele Sentini of the hip, new, casual Italian restaurant Piola (3201 Louisiana, 713-524-8222) that just opened in Midtown.

"Since this was our first restaurant, the fact that it was a franchise really helped. They were here from day one and are still here, helping us get started," Sentini says. "All of our over 50 different pizzas are thin-crust, although we also make Pizze Napoletane with slightly thicker edges and more dough," says Sentini.

Dish started out with a fabulous Roka Cabana salad. Made with arugula, yellow peppers, mozzarella and pistachios, it is both colorful and dramatic in presentation. This was followed by a polenta con ragù, or meat sauce, which had an authentic taste and texture. This was followed by a Pizza Napoli, with traditional Italian ingredients like mozzarella, black olives, anchovies, sun-dried tomatoes and basil. The taste was exquisite. The star of the evening was the penne rosate, whose creamy pink sauce was definitely enhanced by a good-size portion of smoked salmon.

Got the latest info on restaurant openings, closings, special events and gossip? E-mail us at dish@houstonpress.com.


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