First Look: Piola
stephanie | May 21, 2013 | 11:00AM |

Just when you think 14th Street dining can’t get any better, a new restaurant serving over 50 varieties of pizza opens shop. Piola, the international chain serving up Italian food (and unlimited bowls of gnocchi) opened the gathering place last night providing a wood-fired oven, a comfortable two floors and a mezzanine (with a patio on the way) for prime pizza enjoyment. The best part? Any time between now and Sunday, their entire menu is half-off.

Incredibly, the menu is perfect for spring and summer–this might come as a shock to those more familiar with the heavy, grease-laden jumbo slice available just a few short blocks away on U Street but Piola’s pies (all 12″, no individual slices sold) are thin and light with fresh toppings all prepared in-house.

“A lot of toppings are added fresh after pizza is done baking,” owner Nabil Ashi tells me. “It’s how they eat it in Italy, sort of like a salad on your pie.”

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Piola, a chain in 11 countries–as far as Turkey, in fact–pulls not only from classic Italian cuisine but from its other spots all over the world, most frequently in Chile and Brazil. Try the Brazilian cheese Catupiry (found on the Rio de Janeiro or the San Paulo), or one of their signature Caipirinhas to wash it down.

Though we swooned over their Capricciosa (ham, sautéed mushrooms and artichokes), we can’t wait to try their more unique combinations like the Copenhagen (Brie cheese topped with smoked salmon and parsley) or the aforementioned Rio de Janeiro (oven-baked pulled chicken breast, catupiry cheese and a dash of parsley).

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And as if the new spot wasn’t perfect enough with a half-off menu, they’ve gone ahead and included specials that’ll make your mouth water, even past their opening week. Happy hour is every day (yes, even weekends) and includes free bites around the bar (we’re talking small pizzas, spiced olives, meats and cheeses, gourmet pizza rolls, small sandwiches, bruschetta and more). With housemade sangrias, international cocktails and a solid beer and wine menu, this is a no-brainer.

Every Monday night, all wine bottles are half-priced from 7pm to close and–here’s our favorite special–on the 29th of every month, there’s all-you-can-eat gnocchi (all made in-house, of course).

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Piola’s new 14th Street location is made with an eco-conscious bent that’s both light and open, a collaboration between Michiels Architecture & Partners and Piola’s in house design team. Check out the new digs from 5:00 to 11:00 Sunday through Thursday and until 1am on Friday and Saturday. For the foreseeable future, lunch is served only on Saturdays and Sundays (starting at 11:00) but you can expect lunch on weekdays in a month or two, just in time for their patio’s completion. (As you could probably guess, we can’t wait.)

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