La Piazza opened this week for dinner only, and will be open for lunch and dinner beginning Monday, May 7th as per their website (http://lapiazzact.com/).
We decided to give it a try tonight and - for their first Saturday night in business - I would say it wasn't bad.
The renovation is lovely. The bar looks bigger (and brighter) than before and includes tables for dinner and several televisions. Behind the bar a large window looks into the main dining room, which has been completely redone. In addition to the "greenhouse-type" area they added to the front of the building overlooking Route 7, the main dining room now boasts a large fireplace nestled in a wall of built-in bookcases, giving the wall the look of a family room/living room in a large home. Candles graced the mantlepiece. The room is all beiges and browns with low lighting. Even full (by the time we left), the room wasn't too loud for a quiet conversation at the table (although that also meant we occasionally overheard large cheers from the bar whenever some big play was made in whatever sports event the bar crowd was watching on television).
The menu is defined as modern italian. It felt like a step up from Tootzy Patza down the road and was similar in price to Little Pub just up the road. A small plate of olives and a small basket of bread were brought to the table (the bread was good, and slightly warm, but should have been a little warmer). The bottle of olive oil on the table had rosemary, garlic, and other spices inside. We were offered a choice of ice water, sparkling water, or some other kind of water (I can't remember). I asked for ice water. The bottle of water placed on our table was cold...to start...but there was no ice and, eventually, the water was room temperature. Despite the fact that we were in a wine bar, my husband ordered an Italian beer.
We started by sharing an appetizer of the mozarella triangles. The waiter told us they were made in-house. Delicious. The accompanying marinara sauce was also yummy and tasted homemade.
We debated about the main course and then both of us ordered from the "ravioli bar" - choosing seven ravioli each from the six different types offered, and each selecting one of the ten sauces. We split our order between the shrimp/lobster ravioli and the chicken basil ravioli, with the garlic white wine and butter sauce and the pesto sauce on the sides so we could mix and match.
I thought the chicken/basil ravioli were tastier. My husband preferred the shrimp/lobster (which I found a little bland). We thought both sauces were delicious.
At neighboring tables we saw linguine with a meatball, which came served in the cast iron pan, one of the pizzas, which was too large for one person (he took half home), a sandwich on focaccia bread, and (I think) the cavatelli. Everyone seemed to be enjoying their meals and, other than the pizza, appeared to clean their plates.
Dessert offerings included tiramisu, fried pizza dough with cinnamon/sugar and (maybe?) ice cream, creme brulee, gelato, and our choice: the chocolate cake, which was described as something like chocolate cake with raspberry and fudge sauces and a scoop of ice cream. The cake was good - warm, with a molten chocolate center - the vanilla ice cream was good, too. And there was chocolate or fudge sauce over the top. But I was really disappointed that the raspberry sauce (which was great) was ONLY three tiny dots of sauce on the side of the plate - more for decoration than anything else. It's not just that the sauce was delicious and I would have liked more, it's that they went out of the way to mention it in the description on the menu, so I expected it to be an integral part of the dish.
Service was pretty good (our server recognized us from his days at Wilton Pizza & Pasta!), with a few minor glitches that can be easily corrected (like the missing ice or the fact that after the appetizer they took away my knife and fork and never replaced them, so I had to ask for new silverware when they handed me my main course).
It's not perfect, but it's definitely an improvement over Amici's (the last Italian restaurant in that space) - and we'll definitely try it again in a few weeks for dinner as well as for lunch.
Can't wait to hear what the rest of our little Georgetown Chowhound Clique thinks...
(and in a separate note, I see the sign for Bistro 7 went up on the building above DeLuca's Hardware, but it doesn't look like the space is anywhere near ready to open. Anyone have an update?)