Fri, Apr 11, 2008 - Page 15 News List

[RESTAURANT REVIEW] La Pizza Pizzeria (披薩利亞義大利餐館)

By Ian Bartholomew  /  STAFF REPORTER

Simple food tastes special with a little bit of extra effort.

PHOTO: IAN BARTHOLOMEW, TAIPEI TIMES

Back in 2006, when Taipei Times last reviewed La Pizza Pizzeria, it was located off Guangfu South Road. Two months ago it relocated to the Shida area and is a welcome addition that will doubtless provide some competition for Maryjane Pizza, located just a few minutes walk away, since it serves similar thin-crust pizzas for a similar, reasonable price. It has the additional attraction of serving homemade fettuccine and bigoli, a rarity in establishments operating in the budget price bracket.

The restaurant itself is comfortable and well-appointed, though the decor might charitably be described as understated: pale wood furnishings; serviceable, easy-to-clean tiles; a few innocuous art works on the walls. The menu is somewhat smaller than the original establishment's off Guangfu, but the essentials remain the same: a wide variety of personal pizzas from a basic margherita (NT$160) to the quattro formaggio (NT$320). The crust is excellent, but the toppings are a bit thin, and in the case of a Napoli (NT$240) ordered recently, the few leaves of basil and slivers of black olive sprinkled on top looked a little sad and forlorn.

It's the pasta that distinguishes La Pizza Pizzeria, as homemade pasta has a very different texture and feel to the store-bought kind. The fettuccine with shrimp, anchovy and vegetable in a white wine sauce (NT$230) is highly recommended, and the topping is quite generous, with nice, fat shrimp and plenty of porcini mushrooms. The salty bite of the anchovies was sadly missing, possibly overwhelmed by a chili fragrance that gave the sauce a slightly Asian piquancy. The bigoli, a fat, round extruded pasta, is also handmade and also tastes excellent, providing a more hearty feel in the mouth than the fettuccine. The bigoli with bacon and yolk in cream sauce (NT$170) was adequate, though the sauce lacked excitement, and did not have the richness of a proper carbonara-type sauce, of which this is a somewhat limp imitation.

The addition of NT$99 converts the dishes into sets, with the addition of soup (on the one occasion I tried this it was a potato and bacon soup, and though a tad bland, had the inestimable advantage of not having come out of a packet, as is the case with so many establishments in this price bracket), a salad and a drink. The appetizer menu is not particularly exciting, featuring the usual Caesar salad (NT$130) and mixed salad with balsamic dressing (NT$90), made with iceberg lettuce.

The young wait staff members are friendly and helpful, and one gets the feeling that a real attempt is being made to provide above-average Western food at competitive rates.

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