Due to family obligations I was unable to make a trek down south to scour the markets for Hmong food. I did, however, eat lunch on Sunday at Piazza Del Pane on the northwest corner of Cedar and Nees. You may have seen this faux Italian style building behind the Rite Aid on the corner.
Here is the deal: Piazza Del Pane seems to be searching for an identity. They have a little of everything. They serve breakfast and lunch counter-style and dinner has waitstaff. They are also a coffee bar serving Peet's coffee. At night, the coffee bar turns into some kind of wine bar (not sure about the details on that). They also are a bakery, with bread and pastries. They also have gelato. And before I forget, they also have a drive-thru (for coffee/pastries only). Whew!
The lunch menu is pretty substantial with several different kinds of cold sandwiches, paninis, salads, and pizzas.
I ordered a Caesar salad pizza, which was waaay too big for one person. You could easily split the pizza and order a side salad and have plenty of food. I found the crust of the pizza to be delicious, crispy and light with a little "chew" to it. The salad would have been great, but the Caesar dressing was pretty bad. It tasted like it was out of the bottle, very mayonnaisy and processed. The salad was also over-dressed, which made the lettuce a little soggy. It was a great idea (cold salad on top of warm pizza crust), but the execution failed. I would like to try some of their other types of pizzas that do not contain salad dressing, since the crust was tasty.
My hubby had the tuna salad sandwich, he declared the bread slices superb, but the tuna salad pretty salty. His sandwich came with french fries, which were the skinny fries. The fries were crispy, but pretty salty as well. He would like to try some of the other sandwiches as well. (A note about the bread: they sell whole loaves and such, but as far as I can tell they do not actually bake the bread in house. It seems to be Max's Artisan Bread they are using, which is a local bakery.)
Other people in my party had the NY steak sandwich, which came piled high with steak in a French county roll. Someone else in the party had the roast beef dip and thought it excellent.
The restaurant itself is very open and spacious. The high ceilings are nice and there is a stone fireplace in the center of the space (kind of weird because it doesn't seem like you could use it much in Fresno, but whatever). There are booths and tables, but much of the seating is outdoors, another weird choice since it is so hot in Fresno for so many months out of the year. The patio is not shaded by a covering, there are only umbrellas over some of the tables and no misters or anything. I predict the outdoors will become a wasteland soon and the dining room will be overcrowded. No one wants to sit outdoors when it is over 100 degrees.
For lunch the prices range between $7.95-$9.95 and while nothing here was outstanding, it is not a bad place to pick up a quick pizza/sandwich if you are in the area.
I will go back and try a few more items before making a final decision.
P.S. I also had the lemon gelato, not bad, but not spectacular. No reason to go out of your way for the gelato.
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