Not sure when it happened, but Piccola Italia changed its menu. If you haven't been recently, GO! The Insalata con Pomodoro alla Burrata di Puglia (House Made Fresh Ricotta Burrata, Marinated White Bean Salad, Arugula, Marinated Tomatoes, Grilled Crostini, Balsamic Glaze) was OUTSTANDING. I've never had Burrata cheese before (http://www.thewinenews.com/octnov06/c...), but what a great surprise. The cheese is essentially a fresh buffalo mozzarella with a softer, slightly oozy inside. In this dish the cheese is smeared over a huge hunk of thick, grilled tuscan bread, which in turn tops a delicious arugula and plum tomato salad with white canellinis. The trip was worth it for this dish alone.
Also notable was the fresh herbed gnocci - Gnocchi di Erbe con Fiori di Zucca
Hand Made Herb Gnocchi, Ricotta and Fresh Mozzarella Stuffed Zucchini Flowers, Tomato Coulis, Zucchini Puree (so light and flavorful!). I've never had a dish of gnocci and still had room for more. The only disappointment was the missing zucchini flowers (apparently the chef's shipment was sub-par). They were replaced by a light eggplant rollatini (don't think of your typical pizza joint type mess), a solid substitute.
There was also a pasta special - Homemade perciatelli with lump crab, roasted zucchini, chanterelles, spring onions, and corn freshly sliced off the cob. The dish seemed to celebrate all thats great of summer- I thought the combination a bit odd when I heard it, but it really worked.
The dessert menu also changed a bit, and I would highly recommend the molten brownie with dulce de leche ice cream and johnnie walker black chocolate sauce. I'm not typically a dessert eater, but my wife had to try this- when I saw it, I had to pile on. It was fantastic.
This place is probably my top pick in monmouth county. I've never had a bad meal here, the service is attentive, you can feel comfortable dressed up or down. There is a reasonable priced wine list with a wide range of selections. If you've never been, make sure give it a shot this summer! Link with menus: