29 October, 2010


Comments : 18 Posted in : Dining in Chapel Hill - NC, Restaurants on by : The Gourmez

1101 Environ Way
East Highway 54, Chapel Hill
Pizzas and entrees: $8—$13

Piola is an Italian restaurant chain that now has 10 branches open in the US, including one in the Highway 54 East development in Chapel Hill.  It’s done in bright colors, with grey floors and a bit of a squiggly line motif.

Loud Italian pop plays in the background, which fits with the clientale I’ve seen in the restaurant ranging from frat boys to groups out for after work dinner and drinks. Piola offers pasta, salads, and calzones, but pizza is their specialty, with four different types of 12-inch pizzas (white, classic, neopolitan, and Piola’s house recipe). There any many ingredient combinations among those categories but with a lot of overlap, so the options are actually less overwhelming than they appear on the menu.

Most importantly, Piola has a great happy hour deal of a free appetizer with the purchase of an alcoholic beverage from 5 to 7 pm weekdays. Taking advantage of that special, I ordered their kiwi + strawberry caipiroska, which was excellent. My accompanying appetizer, the bruschetta, was just as good.

The bread, the same as was in the bread basket, was wonderfully soft and managed to maintain that texture even when lightly toasted. The tomatoes and olive oil were fantastic, especially with the high level of salt that brought their flavors out magnificently. More basil was called for, however.

Laura’s caprese salad was beautifully arranged, as most caprese salads can’t help being with their green, red, and white colors.

She thought it was great, and I don’t doubt it. We managed to share a pizza even with all that appetizer deliciousness.

We ordered the Sarajevo, a white pizza with smoked mozzarella, ricotta, spinach, and regular mozzarella. It was beautiful, especially the ricotta clouds dolloped on top. However, that cheese layer was a quarter-inch thick. That’s too much cheese for any pie to handle. Perhaps if the smoked mozzarella had been more dominant, it would have worked, but it was far too much cheese. The crust was delicious, but I couldn’t fully appreciate it under the burden of that cheese challenge.

Ben ordered his own pizza, the Mantova, a Piola house-recipe pizza.

It’s made with carpaccio (yes, carpaccio on pizza!), brie, arugula, tomatoes, tomato sauce, and mozzarella. He thought it was great.

On a second trip, Ben had a tasty calzone with ham, mushrooms, tomato sauce, and mozzarella, and Laura had the Calvino salad with mixed greens, gorgonzola, cherry tomatoes, onions, sweet peppers, and rare NY strip steak.

Laura looked rapturous in her appreciation of the salad. My pizza choice was a huge improvement over the Sarajevo.

It was the Carbonara, a classic-style pizza made with pancetta, parmesan, tomato sauce, and mozzarella with beaten egg brushed over the top before baking. I thought it was a fantastic combination and enjoyed having a pizza that subtlely reminded me of breakfast. The tomato sauce was bright, but I did think it could be more complex. Otherwise, no complaints here!

To sum up, Piola’s focus on quality ingredients like their tomatoes, bread, and olive oil makes for some really great dishes and cocktails. Sometimes, the pizza combinations measure up and sometimes they need a bit more work. So if you don’t mind trying a few until you find a gem, definitely give Piola a shot.

3 stars

Reviewed 10.14.10 and 10.26.10.


18 thoughts on : Piola

  • Judy Hall
    May 7, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    Best Pizza restaurant in Chapel Hill area! I love going to Piola! The place is nice, the atmosphere is great and the food is awesome! I love their customer service and live jazz music night!

    • May 9, 2011 at 2:38 am

      I didn’t know they had a jazz night! Which night of the week is that?

  • Bobby
    May 13, 2011 at 8:58 am

    May 18th Jazz night.

  • Jade
    May 20, 2011 at 7:32 pm

    Next Jazz night by Chris Reynalds is June 7th.

  • Chris Nelson
    May 24, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    May 28th, football game! Come to Piola Chapel Hill to watch football, drink beers and eat delicious pizza!

  • Eric
    May 25, 2011 at 8:14 am

    This Sunday the 29th is our Gnocchi Day, all you can eat Gnocchi!

  • Audrey
    June 5, 2011 at 10:23 pm

    June 12th, Greg Paul Hoover is going to take us to a beautiful saxoften world at our PIOLA Chapel Hill, enjoy brunch and have a glass of Lagaria Pinot grigio..

  • Ken
    June 12, 2011 at 1:12 am

    Chris Reynolds performing at PIOLA Chapel Hill on June 22nd from 7-9pm!!!

  • Audrey
    June 14, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    Chris Reynolds performing at PIOLA Chapel Hill on June 15th from 7-9pm!!!That is TOMORROW!!!

  • David
    June 15, 2011 at 11:15 am

    TODAY (Wed)June 15th – all wine bottles 1/2 price AND the Chris Reynolds Band (7-9pm). Hope to see you!

  • Carly
    June 18, 2011 at 9:29 am

    Gregory Paul Hoover is performing Saxophone tomorrow June 19th. from 12-3pm at PIOLA East 54 Chapel Hill!!! Enjoy our Sunday Brunch Menu! Father’s Day SPECIAL! Dad get a 12′ Pizza for FREE! AND Enjoy the beautiful music! ;0)

  • Amy
    June 24, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    This coming Wed. the 29th It’s————- Gnocchi Day!!! PLUS All wine bottles are 1/2 priced!!! What a great Wed. to enjoy with your family and friends at PIOLA Chapel Hill East 54! :0)

  • Ken
    July 2, 2011 at 8:04 am

    If your not in the mood to grill out or you just don’t want to hang out in the sweltering heat. Whatever the case, if you’re looking for something to do this 4th of July visit Piola Chapel Hill East54 for a great deal on our draft beer and pizza for only $10.00 special. Join us in bringing in the 4th!
    (5:00 PM – 11:00 PM)

  • July 2, 2011 at 8:09 am

    Visit PIOLA Chapel Hill East54 facebook! Join us!!

  • Ken
    July 2, 2011 at 8:11 am

    Christopher M. Reynolds Swing N Jazz night July 5th. from 7-9pm at PIOLA East 54 Chapel Hill!!! See you there!!

  • Carly
    July 18, 2011 at 9:40 am

    Christopher M. Reynolds Swing N Jazz night Wed.July 20th from 7-9pm at PIOLA Chapel Hill East 54! See you there!!

  • July 28, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    Gnocchi Day Tomorrow Friday the 29th!!!!Yummy!!!!!!!!!!!!! :0)

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