A fully prepped piadina
La Piadineria, a tiny lunch counter near Square Saint-Louis, has been around for almost two years but was not picked up by my radar until recently. I wish I had known about it earlier because it serves something very tasty called a piadina.
The piadina is a popular street food in Emilia-Romagna, the region near the upper right side of that boot-shaped peninsula called Italy, known for such culinary delights as Parmigiano-Reggiano, balsamic vinegar and prosciutto crudo. It is a flatbread that could be described as the lovechild of a crepe and a calzone. It’s made of stretchy, pizza-like dough that is rolled out into a very thin crepe shape and cooked on a hot plate until just barely crispy. Toppings, mainly savoury but sometimes also sweet, are applied to one half of the circular bread and the other half is folded over.
The general formula for a savoury piadina is cold cuts plus cheese plus vegetables. La Piadineria offers quite a variety of all three elements, meaning an endless number of permutations are possible. Meats include prosciutto (raw and cooked), mild and hot pancetta, capicolo, mortadella, salami, Italian sausage and more. On team vegetable, the players include arugula, rapini, lettuce, marinated eggplant and mushrooms. The cheese line-up includes provolone, gorgonzola, stracchinno (a delightfully fatty spreadable cheese), as well as mozzarella and swiss cheese, both of the North American standard variety.
I have been to la Piadinera several times and I have tried many combinations. My favourite thus far has been stracchino, prosciutto and arugula ($9.50). Within the crispy flatbread shell, the sweet, gooey, slightly liquefied stracchino coats the generous helping of prosciutto, sliced to order — not some Canadian-made bullshit but the real thing, direct from Parma. A layer of peppery arugula gives the sandwich a kick of freshness and cuts the saltiness of the ham. It’s a real delight.
Other combos that I’ve enjoyed include hot pancetta, swiss cheese and rapini ($8.50) and — a recent addition to the menu — porchetta (herb-stuffed roasted pork), smoked provolone and mushrooms ($9.50).
Every Thursday, Enzo, the very friendly and very Italian piadina man, receives a small shipment of buffalo mozzarella from the homeland and offers a deluxe piadina ($12). It’s the same as my favourite described above but the mozzarella replaces the stracchino. It’s worth the splurge — the delicate texture and the subtle flavour of those buffalo milk balls is enchanting. Be warned that the deluxe is only available while the week’s shipment of mozzarella di buffala lasts. Usually, it’s gone by Saturday.
Whichever piadina you end up choosing, I strongly suggest you finish things off with an espresso ($1.75). They are nice and tight — done the proper Italian way — and will protect you from nodding off at your desk whilst digesting all the cheese and cured meat in your belly.
Address: 3421 St-Denis
Hours: Mon–Fri 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sat 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Vegetarian friendly: Sure, just skip the cold cuts.
Accessibility: One step up, counter seating only. ■
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