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On any given weekend night, when my husband and I are lucky enough to have a sitter and the opportunity to enjoy a date night out together, there comes an inevitable conversation that goes something like this:
“Where do you want to go?”
“I don’t care, I’m just happy to go out, what sounds good to you?”
“Honestly, I don’t care either – pick something?”
“I don’t want to pick, you pick!”
And so on, and so forth.
I’m fairly sure this conversation occurs for about 90% of couples who’ve been together for some time. When this happens to us, we have a “fall back” place that makes us both happy – and that, is Piazza del Pane.
What surprises me, is how often Piazza del Pane is relatively quiet on a Friday or Saturday night, which is what prompted me to write about them this week. While I don’t want them to suddenly become too packed for us to easily get in, I also want to see them do well so that they’ll be around for years to come!
Piazza del Pane started with its original location on Cedar and Nees, offering counter-order lunches and full-service dinners in a beautiful yet cozy and comfortable atmosphere, complete with see-through fireplace and relaxing patio seating. Their paninis, pastas, gelato and espresso drinks were always well-made and delivered by attentive, polite, yet unobtrusive servers.
Upon the completion of Pane’s second location at Palm and Herndon (“Palmdon Drive”), my husband and I found ourselves visiting more often for dinner, as it was closer to home for us. The dinner menu expanded, offering selections beyond contemporary California-Italian choices and adding comfort-food classics like wine-braised ribs and an exceptional Pane burger. (I know, your instinct wouldn’t be to go to Piazza del Pane and order a burger, but trust me – you should! It’s my favorite entrée on their menu! And I’m not even a big burger-eater/ordered typically.)
More recently, the restaurants added full bars and enclosed patios with heaters and fireplaces. This additional upgrade is what made Piazza del Pane my husband and my favorite date night spot. The patio on Palm and Herndon offers pleasant outdoor seating in an uncovered patio that is almost always uncrowded, in addition to the covered patio seating. The new addition of a happy hour appetizer and drink menu makes gourmet apps incredibly affordable, yet luxurious to enjoy. This past Saturday night, we ordered their Fried Brie (cheat day, don’t judge!) and it was served with olive oil and herb-brushed crostini, sliced fresh strawberries, apples and grapes as well as a side of honey for drizzling. I’m pretty sure I could enjoy eating this combination of foods every day and never tire of it!
The service we enjoy on the patio is always attentive, even when we sit away from the rest of the crowd we’re not forgotten and our drinks are always refilled. Beyond the Fried Brie appetizer, some of my other favorite foods to enjoy from the Pane menu include their house salad (the balsamic dressing is absolutely fantastic!), their lightly tempura-battered sweet potato fries with aioli dipping sauce (my favorite sweet potato fries in town), and if it’s on the menu when you go – you should try the Gemelli Pasta with Fresh Mozzarella and Tomato Basil Cream Sauce – so good! (I make a wannabe copy-cat version at home using Trader Joe’s Tomato Cream Sauce. Good in a pinch, but Piazza del Pane’s version still wins for sure.)
The bread served with dinner is soft, freshly baked and lightly herbed and comes with an herb and garlic whipped butter spread. (Ok, I’m drooling on my keyboard now, dangit!) and my favorite cocktail at Piazza del Pane, is their Cherry Limonata. Since we’re already talking fried cheese and sweet potato fries, we may as well go all out and say you need to try their exceptional crème brûlée. It’s a wonderful dessert to share, and a great way to end a delicious meal.
Piazza del Pane has hosted holiday luncheons for the company I work for, for the past two years (and has done an exceptional job) and both locations are wonderful for bridal or baby showers and other private party events, as you can reserve the whole patio. Additionally, both locations offer a tasty and reasonably priced Sunday brunch, so if you’re into brunching with friends and family, so be sure to give that a try as well.
Now that I’ve shouted from the rooftops (err… webtops?) about how wonderful Piazza del Pane is, please make it a point to go enjoy eating their soon, especially during the spring and summer when you can enjoy eating in the uncovered patio area at the Palm location – you’ll love it! Oh, but just don’t all go at once, because the lack of excessive crowds is one of the greatest things about the restaurant – visit in a steady stream, kthanks! 😉