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Piola and its lovely patio rise from the ashes

Posted 5:01pm on Wednesday, Apr. 22, 2009

It being such a pretty night and all, we went out for dinner on the patio at Piola last night. The restaurant in Fort Worth's Cultural District reopened last Wednesday, 52 days after a devastating fire. Owner Bobby Albanese had two construction crews working around the clock, one doing the interior and the other repairing the outside, so he could reopen before summer's heat.

The menu's pretty much the same, which is to say that the food's plentiful and affordable, with Italian standards dominating. There are some interesting unexpected finds, too, like an appetizer of asparagus wrapped in prosciutto, served with a creamy goat cheese. Bobby's grandma's lasagna is a big favorite, with big being the operative word -- it's a huge serving.

Wanting something a bit lighter, we shared an antipasti plate that held various cheeses, like goat and manchego, some grapes and pear slices, and assorted goodies like crunchy fried olives and artichoke hearts. My entree, a classic, lemony veal piccata with capers, came with asparagus risotto.

We sat right by the patio bar, so drinks came quickly -- always a plus. We had but one small complaint: the water feature needs some circulation or a dose of some kinda cleaning agent, because a whiff of stagnant ick wafted my way a couple of times, interfering with the scent of honeysuckle coming off the vines climbing the patio fence.

Once the summer heat is on, Bobby will have the patio misters and fans going -- or we can just sit inside the air-conditioned cottage dining room.

Find Piola at 3700 Mattison; you'll want to call 817-989-0007 for a weekend reservation.

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