Piada: Fast casual Italian style

March 25, 2012

Photos and story by Linda Duke

Piada is a fairly new Italian fast casual concept with six locations in Ohio featuring assembly-line wraps, pasta dishes and salads or what they call “Italian Street Food.” Piada is the latest project from Chris Doody, who launched Bravo, Brio and Bon Vie restaurants.

Much like Chipotle, diners can build their own personalized wraps, pastas or salads from an array of grilled items such as calamari, chicken, steak, sausage, salmon or veggies. Customers can then choose from a variety of toppings and sauces that are placed inside a flatbread Piada or a salad. The main attraction begins at “The Stone,” where an exhibition-style hot stone is used to heat up their signature “Piada” – or flatbread – which looks similar to a tortilla. Piada actually refers to a whole wheat Italian flatbread, or a sandwich made out of this bread.

Sauce choices include pomodoro, red or green pesto, spicy diavolo, or creamy parmesan, and all sauces are meatless. Veggies and other toppings include mozzarella, parmesan and feta cheese, angel hair pasta, peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions, arugula, mixed greens, mushrooms, sprouts, avocados, black olives and roasted red peppers.

Salads can be an entree or a side salad can be built to order at the front counter. The same grilled items, veggie and cheese options are available for the salad. Dressings include Italian and balsamic vinaigrette and a chef-style crew member mixes your choices of toppings and dressing to your liking while you watch.

All pasta dishes are prepared with angel hair, and they come with a choice of grilled item, sauces, cheese and grilled vegetables. Other items on the menu include spinach and artichoke dip, tomato basil soup, Piada sticks and cannoli chips. Piada also serves a limited menu of beer and inexpensive wine. Prices at Piada are very fair as an entree and side with a drink cost about $10.

Using their signature flatbread they have created nice sides to accompany any dish or to be served by themselves as a Piada Stick. These are pieces of flatbread grilled with different cheeses and rolled and grilled again to create a breadstick type of handheld Piada. They come in pepperoni, parmesan reggiano and parmesan.

One interesting standout, the menu boards were located at the end of the queue, almost as an unnecessary attraction. The good news is that a crew member at “The Stone” asked: ‘Have you been here before,’ and when we admitted we hadn’t she was very informative and walked us through what a Piada is and how it's made.

The decor is contemporary with images of Vespa scooters on the walls. Even in the bathroom décor was Italian inspired and minimal. The bench seating was a great touch in the dining room. There was even a very clever orange poster on the wall inviting guests to the next Piada VIP opening. Customers also can scan a QR Code on the poster to ensure they're on the invite list.

This concept is really a great addition to the fast casual scene and we hope to see more of them soon. Click here to view a slideshow of the concept.

Read more about restaurant design and layout.

Linda Duke is CEO of Duke Marketing LLC, a California-based integrated marketing communications company with expertise in integrated marketing communications, specializing in multi-location and franchise organizations. Over the past 20+ years, Duke has consulted with top restaurant and hospitality brands in the United States and abroad, and is a nationally recognized speaker, educator and published author.

Topics: Business Strategy and Profitability , Customer Service / Experience , Food & Beverage , Franchising & Growth , Italian/Pizza , Restaurant Design / Layout

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