March 21, 2013
Life can be so amazing and fun, especially when you have my job, being able to eat and drink at the most incredible restaurants. Well Piero’s PizzaVino is no exception, well thought out cuisine in the heart of the hot hot hot, El Paseo shopping area in Palm Desert. And the pizza, well that’s a whole other story!
Mama Gina’s is Piero PizzaVino’s sister restaurant right across the street. The original Mama Gina in Florence Italy, is still being run by Piero’s cousin. Piero told me he wanted to open a restaurant that would offer really great food at a decent price, but it had to be a very close location for him to even think about this new venture. He sold his other renowned restaurant Acqua Pazza 2 ½ years ago, so he was ready for something new. Then came Pierro’s PizzaVino. Now, for Piero to check on his staff and clientele he just has to walk across the street.
We also talked about the fact that the there is no comparable pizza in West Hollywood, and that Piero’s newest restaurant, with all it has to offer, is a well-kept secret. I tried to persuade Piero into opening an annex in WEHO. I guess I gave away the secret; Piero’s PizzaVino is the best pizza in Southern California, with unusual affordable prices!
At Piero’s PizzaVino, the placemats tell the story of pizza. “Artifacts such as marble slabs and culinary tools resembling those commonly found in today’s pizzerias were discovered in ashes smothering Pompeii after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius on August 24, 79 A.D.” Piero’s PizzaVino uses four key ingredients for true Neapolitan Pizza; the oven, San Marzano tomatoes, Fiordi Latte and DoppioZero Flour, it’s all about the balance. They are very serious about their pizza, and it shows!
To read more: www.ppizzavino.com/history.htm
Here’s what I tried:
ANTIPASTI AND ZUPPE:
Minestrone Soup. Like mama’s milk, very comforting with such a nice mellow flavor.
Fried Calamari served with their “Diavola” sauce. Very light and the sauce is a big winner.
Asparagus wrapped in Italian Pancetta from the broiler. The pancetta is cooked crisp and the asparagus in snap tender, a nice marriage of flavors.
Fried zucchini blossoms stuffed with ricotta cheese and topped with raw honey. Melissa said this was a true taste treat, and she was right. You must order this for a starter, that is all I can say.
Tuscan Wedge with Iceberg lettuce, prosciutto bites, oven roasted vine tomatoes, and roasted pine nuts served with our sweet Gorgonzola dressing and crumbled blue cheese
PizzaVino Caesar with Shrimp, really terrific salad, the dressing is just the right amount with great nuances.
Bubba-Bubba with Piero’s white sauce, mozzarella, crumbled Italian sausage, caramelized onions and mushrooms. The caramelized onions really kick this up a notch, and the white sauce adds just the right amount of flavors. The real treat here is the crust, the beat pizza ever!
Capricciosa with Tomato, mozzarella, baked prosciutto (ham), mushrooms, artichokes and black olives. This is a very lively combination; the artichokes and the baked prosciutto are the highlights.
PIATTI DEL GIORNO:
Shrimp in a white wine, herbs and garlic sauce served with roasted potatoes and asparagus. This dish is very good; the sauce is a perfect blend of herbs and garlic.
Pork Tenderloin with oven roasted served with olive oil mashed potatoes, asparagus in a mushroom Marsala sauce. This pork was so tender and luscious, with the Marsala mushrooms, got to have this dish again.
TEGAMINI (Pasta casseroles baked in wood-fired oven):
Rigatoni with fresh clams and mussels in a light marinara sauce. The pasta is perfect, and the shellfish is evenly cooked.
Cheese Tortelloni with eggplant, fresh oregano, mozzarella and bread crumbs. My oh my, once again a favorite must have, oozing with good cheesy goodness.
Cioppino seems like they have been simmering this very flavorful stew all day. It is really that good, and the seafood seems like it just came off the boat.
Hazelnut Nutella’s Ravioli with strawberry compote and whipped cream. This is one big carnival in your mouth, full of fantastic tasty rides, a dolci not be missed.
Robert Pepi Sauvignon Blanc, CA. Fruit forward, but not with grapefruit, instead nice peach, pineapple flavors. This wine paired great with the zucchini flowers. The wine brought out the very pleasant honey drops, and the cheesy center to the zucchini.
Hess Select, Chardonnay, CA. This wine went great with the Caesar salad, bringing out the tangy citrus hints in the dressing.
DeLoach, Chardonnay, CA. I liked this wine with The Calamari, quite the no brainer. Rule of thumb, seafood equals Chardonnay!
Trinitas, Chardonnay, CA. This is one of Melissa’s favorites, and now mine. It has very nice caramel and vanilla subtle bites, but worked very well with Bubba Bubba pizza, helping the richness of the caramelized onions, and balancing out the simple flavors.
Paul Hobb Malbec, Felino, Argentina. Of course got to pair this with the pizzas and all the red sauce menu items, it pulled out all of the surprise flavors in these dishes.
Joel Gott, Zinfindel, CA. This one was just made for the Pork Tenderloin, and the lovely Marsala sauced mushrooms. Truly a happy combo.
The vibe here is industrial, yet homey. The ever hands on Piero laid his own brick walls, and the Colorado Beetle wood gives it more of an old world, rustic look. There are old copper Italian pots that surround the open kitchen. It is not an intrusive environment, so that the food takes center stage.
Piero likes to keep his business in the family, his daughter is his office manager and son is general manager of Mama Gina’s. Piero told me about his father being a chef and working on the ship SS Andrea Doria. His father is 92 and currently lives in Viareggio, known as the Italian Riviera. He must have a great retirement life, with its great sunshine and beaches. Piero is really in great shape, he does not have an ounce of fat on him, and he is 61 years young. He claims that he is addicted to pizza, and has to have a few pieces a day, but balances that with a sensible salad for dinner. The other fantastic thing beside its food that Piero’s PizzaVino has to offer is the very gregarious Melissa. She is all things to Piero and PizzaVino, acting as manager, including offering a lot comic relief and killer suggestion for her choice of wines by the glass. Melissa is so gracious, she really adds a lot of fun to this already fantastic establishment, and she has paid her dues, in the past working for Donald Trump.
With temperatures sometimes over 118, a lot of El Paseo businesses close in the summer months. Melissa says “there used to be a time when folks had 2 houses, so they could get out of the sun baked dessert in the summer. Due to the fall in the economy some people don’t have the luxury of getting out of the summer heat and have to stay put”. Piero’s PizzaVino is open all year round, and caters to tourist and locals a like; they know where bread is buttered.
If you’re looking for just run of the mill pizza, bypass this restaurant. But like me if you’ve been to Italy and know the difference between an imposter pizza and a real one then by all means next time your in the desert make Piero’s PizzaVino a stop in your weekly schedule, you will be so glad you did.
72722 El Paseo
Palm Desert, CA. 92260