Updated April 28th based on our recent return visit.
I received an invitation for 2 to the VIP Grand Opening event at Piada Italian Street Food. Each guest was provided with their choice of entree, side, and a drink.
Piada Italian Street Food opened their first Ann Arbor location on Friday, April 1, 2016. Piada Ann Arbor is located at 311 S. State Street in the location previously occupied by Five Guys Burgers.
My original plan was to bring my daughter to the Piada Ann Arbor VIP Grand Opening. However, when I went to book my reservation they only had lunch invitations available. Instead, my husband got to join me for lunch. We returned as a family at the end of April, and I have added some additional comments based on that visit.
When we arrived at noon for the VIP event, the line to order food was to the door. However, we were greeted at the front door and provided with menu cards so that we could examine the menu before reaching the counter.
On our subsequent visit, there were several groups waiting for other members before ordering so we were able to order almost right away.
Menu at Piada Ann Arbor
Piada Ann Arbor offers four main entrees, their signature Piadas, Pastas, and Salads. They also offer Tascas which are a smaller version of a Piada. While some of the Pastas and Salads sounded good, my husband and I both decided to stick with the Piada since it was more unique to the restaurant at the VIP event.
My husband opted for a Chicken Fritte – fried chicken strips, mozzarella, romaine, sweet & spicy peppers, and spicy Tuscan Dressing. I opted for a Create-Your-Own Piada and included grilled chicken strips, feta cheese, spinach, basil pesto, and red onions.
Side Dishes are available at an additional cost. Options include Piada Garlic Dough, Piada Stick (Pepperoni or Parmigiana Reggiani), Soups (Lobster Bisque or Tomato Bisque), and Cannoli Bites. They also offer seasonal sides (currently Orzo Crunch, Tuscan Kale Detox, and Quinoa). Since they were included in our promotion, my husband and I each decided to add a side and share them. His choice was the Parmesan Piada Stick while I ordered the Cannoli Chips.
The menu did not list a children’s menu, but when I was asked, I was referred to their website. Children (age 12 & under) may select a small Piada, Pasta, or Chopped Salad with their choice of grill item (proteins), sauce, dressing, and toppings.
On our return visit, my husband tried a Tasca Trio with soup, my daughter had a Create Your Own Pasta, and I had another Create Your Own Piada.
Ordering at Piada Ann Arbor
Ordering food at Piada Ann Arbor is like ordering at many other locations that assemble your food in front of you. We started by ordering our Piadas and my husband’s Piada Sticks. They grilled our Piada dough in front of us and then passed it to the employee at the next station to add sauce and grill items.
Finally, an employee adds the toppings and wraps your Piada. From what I saw Pastas and salads followed the same general procedure. Because you followed your dish through the line, it was easy to ask for modifications to the standard dish or create your own. After the entrees are completed, there are the seasonal sides and the soups if you wish to add them. The cannoli chips are also available at the register.
They did make my husband’s dish wrong at the VIP event (using calamari instead of fried chicken), but it was discovered at the end of the line. At some point our dishes seemed to end up out of sync with each other. Once they realized the error, they remade his dish and brought it out to us when it was completed. While today was part of the VIP Grand Opening, it was also staff training so I am forgiving of a couple of small hiccups.
On our subsequent visit, it took a bit of effort to keep our orders together since the Tascas are prepared off-line and a post-it note was used as a place holder for my husband’s order. The bigger issue on this visit was a shortage of grill items. My daughter had to wait for her crispy chicken and I had to wait for my grilled chicken.
Food at Piada Ann Arbor
A Piada reminds me a little of a burrito, but with Italian flavors inside instead of Mexican. I definitely enjoyed my Piada. Next time, I might try the pasta because several dishes sounded really good.
Our Piadas were a good size. My husband decided to save half of his for lunch tomorrow, while I finished mine. In my defense, looking at our Piadas, his did seem to be larger than mine.
The Piada Stick was huge and definitely could be shared as a side dish by 2-3 people. My husband and I split one Piada Stick and I actually gave him back part of mine.
The hit of the meal was the Cannoli Chips! Our order had 9-10 Cannoli Chips in it. I was expecting broken pieces of cannoli, but they were actually Cannoli Rolls about 2″ in length and 1″ in diameter that could be dipped in the cream. I had 3, my husband had 3-4 (he couldn’t remember), and we brought 4 home for our daughter. With a price tag of only $2.99 I will definitely be ordering these again.
My daughter really enjoyed her small pasta. She brought some of it home and took it to school for lunch today. Maybe next time I’ll try a pasta. I preferred the Piada combination that I made last time better – I guess that’s the risk of create your own.
Yes, we did order the Cannoli Chips again and brought them home for dessert. Our order was just as large as our first visit.
Atmosphere at Piada Ann Arbor
Piada Ann Arbor was quite crowded today, but I would expect them to be hit hard at lunch and dinner because of their proximity to campus. I know we often experience lines at other casual restaurants in the area. I expect the line to move faster once the staff and customers are more experienced. As a first-time customer, I did feel a little slow in placing my order and needing to question when to order which items (tip – order Piada Sticks or Dough with your entree). I’ll know better for next time.
What Piada Ann Arbor lacks is seating capacity. When the restaurant was Five Guys, overflow seating was available in the basement and was used frequently. Piada Ann Arbor offers only the first floor seating, and it may be even less seating than when the restaurant was Five Guys. This may have to be a place that we save for months when the students are gone, particularly when it is warm enough to find a place to eat outside.
With the crowds in the restaurant today, it was hard to take pictures of the decor in the restaurant. It is definitely more sophisticated than the Five Guys decor with dark wood accents throughout. We had lunch at a bar counter facing the food assembly area. With backless bar stools, it wouldn’t be a great option for kids, but was fine for my husband and I. There are several regular tables and chairs throughout the restaurant that would be fine for families. The restaurant also has a couple of high chairs available.
Seating is still at a premium at Piada and a major drawback to selecting it as a place to go. It was made particularly difficult yesterday as two bikers brought their bikes into the restaurant and had them propped against the seating bar where my husband and I had visited last time effectively blocking 5-6 seats from use.
My other complaint about the seating is that the food is served on round trays that have a larger diameter than the width of the counters for the seating bars. With the trays hanging over the bar I was worried about my food being knocked off balance.
We enjoyed both our lunch and dinner at Piada Ann Arbor. I’m sure we’ll be back…at least in the less crowded summer months when seating is less of an issue.