Fri, Sep 08, 2006 - Page 15 News List

Restaurant: La Pizza

Address: 9, Alley 13, Lane 473, Guangfu S Rd, Taipei (台北市光復南路473巷13弄9號).
Note: The address is difficult to find and is best reached from Lane 380, Keelung Rd Sec 1 (基隆路一段380巷).
Telephone: (02) 2722-3382
Open: Lunch: 11:45am to 3pm; Dinner 5:45pm to 10pm
Average meal: Set lunch NT$180 to NT$250; Dinner NT$400 plus drink
Details: Menu in Chinese and English

By Noah Buchan  /  STAFF REPORTER

It ain't fancy, but La Pizza does a good job with its signature dish.

PHOTO: NOAH BUCHAN, TAIPEI TIMES

Taipei has a multitude of Italian eateries; a few genuine, others cheap imitations — Italian in name only. La Pizza manages to place itself somewhere in the middle, and to its credit.

The interior is thankfully lacking in clutter and kitsch. The lighting is soft and is complemented by a long exposed brick wall. Indeed, too often restaurants in Taiwan take a prudish attitude to the walls and cover them up with cement, as if there is some profanity law against exposed brick.

Nestled at the back is a cavern-like area that is reserved for making and baking bread. Like the bread, everything at La Pizza is made from scratch. After the dough is kneaded and rolled into shape, it is then sprinkled with rosemary and cooked to perfection. This has the double bonus of ensuring that the bread is always warmly fresh and gives the restaurant a rosemary aroma. The bread (NT$100) is served with balsamic and olive oil and a delicious tuna dip.

For appetizers, La Pizza offers diners a light yet satisfying Carprese salad, a colorful mixture of tomatoes, mozzarella, oregano and olive oil topped with fresh basil (NT$180). For those who enjoy more traditional starters, there is a regular Caesar salad with (NT$170) or without (NT$150) smoked chicken. The Smoked Salmon with Mustard Dressing (NT$180) looked and tasted fabulous, though the kitchen forgot to add the dressing. But the star of the starters was definitely the Baked Mixed Mushrooms (NT$180). Presented in a ceramic dish with cheese and garlic, it goes well with the bread.

Fully justifying the joints name is their range of Pizzas (NT$250). With seventeen varieties on offer, there is a pie for every pizza lover. The ricotta, ham and mushroom Calzone (NT$280) was warm and tasty, though lacking in filling. Less impressive was the pasta. The Spicy Fettuccine with Mixed Seafood (NT$260) did have seafood, but it wasn't of the mixed or fresh variety. Missing were the mussels, shrimp and other various seafood that should be both fresh and easy to get in Taiwan. This pasta dish was lacking on both counts.

Though there are many pizzas on offer, the dessert menu is limited to Panacotta (NT$60), a traditional Italian dessert made of milk and smothered in caramel. The eatery also has limited selection of inexpensive beer and wine and is a wonderful place to while away the evening with friends.

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