Pia's Greek restaurant can be summed up in one word: quality. Right off, I want you to know I am not Greek, and I have no extensive experience with Greek food. Some of my friends are Greek, and I've tasted their Baklava, Pastitsio, Moussaka and Greek Lamb. I've even made all of those at home with good results, thanks to my friends' recipes. But I'm hardly a connoisseur of Greek cuisine. What I am, though, is someone who recognizes quality, and Pia's is quality.
Four of us ate there recently, and all four of us have enough dining experience to know when a restaurant is cutting corners. In the present economic environment, it's something I'm wary of. There were no corners cut at Pia's.
We skipped appetizers and went right to the entrees. It's not that we didn't want appetizers. It's just that we didn't want to be bringing home a ton of leftovers.
With our reasonably priced entrees came a basket of assorted warm buttered (with olive oil?) breads and a delightful house salad with fresh greens, chickpeas, red onion, tomato and cucumber. We all requested the house dressing (champagne vinaigrette) and started our first oohs and aahs, as we all were enthralled with the dressing. We took turns trying to guess what was in it: lots of parsley, a hint of lemon, olive oil, champagne vinegar, a bit of mustard and some honey? It's anybody's guess because Pia is keeping the recipe a secret. Sleuth that I am, I was determined to crack the code. (A future post will be on champagne vinaigrette -- I think I've come close to cloning this fabulous dressing!) We talked about it for a solid week as I scoured New Bern to find the right champagne vinegar. The dressing is so good, we each cleaned our cups of it -- we didn't care if the salad was gone, we just wanted more champagne vinaigrette!
|House salad with champagne vinaigrette on the side (in cup at top left)|
|Guy's filet mignon with fingerling potatoes and fresh veggies|
Joann ordered Asparagus-Bacon Alfredo, a special not on the menu, and was not disappointed.
The restaurant is small, but when you enter you sense that something is special here.
Something is very special indeed. This is my new go-to restaurant, and my hubby agrees. Amazing, since we've not been very easy to please in New Bern. Most restaurants fail to meet our tough standards. Either they give me a salad with brown ends on the lettuce and a dressing I don't like, or the entree has a poor-quality protein, or there isn't enough protein in the dish, or.... You get the point. Pia's passed our test on every level, and I can't wait to go back.
Pia's is one of five area restaurants participating in the Art & Wine Festival August 26, 27 and 28. A 4-course meal with wine pairing is available for the all-inclusive price of $55 per person. Tickets may be purchased in person at the Convention Center or Craven Arts Council & Gallery, or online at the festival website.
Please note that I have received no payments, discounts or free stuff for this review. These are my opinions and were not influenced in any way by Pia's Restaurant.
UPDATE: Chef Pia informed me today that, because of health reasons, the New Bern restaurant is closed. Her recent heart attack has made it very difficult for her to commute daily from Greenville to run the restaurant. Fortunately, she has another, larger restaurant, in Washington, NC, run by her husband. We plan on going there soon to get more of her sumptuous food. Her official website, which is under construction, has menus and background information on Chef Pia, and is worth a visit.