Italian eats are about as American as you can get and pretty much ubiquitous for dining. BUT it is rare to find a truly Italian chain offering here in the Triangle; and that’s why I was curious about Piola out in N. Hills. Part of an international chain based out of Italy and with only 11 locations in the US (primarily Florida), I really wasn’t familiar with the North Hills location. But with a GroupOn in hand, it was time to figure out what’s up at Piola!
If you’re looking for Piola at North Hills, be aware that it’s in the newer section near the Captrust Tower. You can’t miss the bright red awning with sidewalk seating out front! I head on in and it’s a good looking space. Concrete floor, bright red cafe setting with colored, glass-blown lamps overhead. The whole space is bright, cheery and great for young families. I head on over to the small bar near the front and grab a seat. The bar has a classic white marble top which seems oh so common in Continental settings. Becky the bartender, immediately greets me and starts with the drink order. Even though they’ve got a $3 NC beer special tonight, I’m going with some prosecco given I’m eating Italian tonight. Piola’s menu is pretty basic covering a range of salads, pizzas and pastas with pretty much everything under $14, very reasonable! I put in an order for pizza and pasta, it’s time to mangia…
My prosecco comes in a cool little individual bottle and it’s perfect for a warm North Carolina summer evening. There’s a cast of locals at the bar and they all seem very happy to grab a bite here at Piola. My pizza comes out first, a 12″ pie with fresh splotches of mozzarella, a slightly rolled crust and a bright red sauce. Piola is known for its pizzas and this one is decent. A slightly thicker crust than what I’m used to and the sauce tastes like it’s been simmered a bit instead of going with basic crushed tomatoes. The crust is pretty light and chewy, the pizza works out fine overall. But a bit different than what I would usually call neapolitan (thicker crust).
After a brief break, my pasta comes out, the rosate penne. A tomato cream sauce with smoked salmon which smells great. It’s a healthy portion of penne which is cooked a bit soft (not al dente) but decent quality. The creamy tomato base with the smoky flavor of the salmon is great and different from your usual plate of pasta! And it’s a good deal for the price, for sure.
I finish off with some profiteroles with ice cream and chocolate sauce which is perfectly fine and a definite happy ending for this sumptuous meal. And service throughout dinner was excellent. I’ve eaten out far too many times to not notice what a pro Becky was running the bar and keeping her customers happy, fantastic job there and much appreciated. So while Piola may not be that well-known in the Triangle with only one location, it’s a hidden gem in North Hills that’s totally worth the effort. In an area where over-priced, ok eats are the norm, Piola dishes out excellent pizzas and pastas at very affordable prices. And with a paucity of good, quick-casual pasta spots in the Triangle, Piola should definitely be on your short list if you’re shopping in North Hills and need a bite to eat, buon appetito!
141 Park at N Hills St #100
Raleigh, NC 27609