If there was a cuisine that could be summed up by an analogous comparison to a cookie cutter, Italian food would be that cuisine.
With places like Buca di Beppo, the Olive Garden and Carrabba's on slightly fewer street corners than Starbucks, interchangeable, run of the mill pseudo-Italian slop is churned out in massive quantities for a slew of diners with the palate nuance of a drunken banana slug.
Luckily for me, there are still places like La Plaia hidden from this barbarian horde that craft great food that tastes like it came straight off of a plane from Piedmont rather than from a laboratory kitchen facility in Hackensack, New Jersey.
Many of La Plaia's specials are for carnivores. They feature a slew of pork and veal dishes prepared in the classic Italian style (My table of meat eaters spoke very highly of their dead animal dishes). The vegetarians will have to settle for the carefully prepared pasta dishes that are as complex as they are delicious.
The salad was prepared in a light olive oil that brought out the subtleties of the greens. The ciabatta bread was fresh baked, piping hot and absolutely divine. The bruschetta was laden with tomatoes, a sharp, clean olive oil and fresh basil.
The alfredo sauce was a careful combination of freshly grated Italian cheeses and cream with thick fettucine noodles. The sauce showcased the parmesan and romano cheeses. You could tell this alfredo sauce was made by hand.
The staff is very friendly. They took the time to update the playoff football scores for us as we dined. The owner and the chef often come out and make sure every detail is to your satisfaction.
The wine list is small. It might be the one shortcoming in a place that elevates classic Italian cooking to another level. The wines are nice, but you probably won't be drinking a bottle of 1990 Gaja Barolo if that's how you roll. You'll have to make due with delicious food and a limited (but tasty) selection of wine from the boot-shaped country and elsewhere.
The interior is small and tastefully appointed. The lighting is soft and (dare I say it?) romantic. La Plaia fills up fast for dinner, so I would recommend reservations. They also offer limited weekend lunch hours.
Check out the pictures, and next time you get a hankering for pasta, steer clear of the dime a dozen Italian eateries that ruin the reputation of a great cuisine and head on over to La Plaia.