La Piazza Puts A Spin On Italian Standards

By Sophia Ricco

ake a seat at La Piazza, an upscale urban eatery that puts their twist on Italian classics.

First opened in Plainview over 25 years ago, the restaurant brought a long history of creating tasty dishes when it opened in Melville eight years ago.

Chef Tommy Sexton and his partners deliver a sophisticated dining experience. With a background in Italian cooking and management experience from a young age, Sexton has shaped La Piazza’s menu as “modern American-Italian” with dynamic flavors.

“You don’t have to travel into the city to have a great night out and experience that style and flavors,” Sexton said.

The restaurant’s expansive menu offers a variety of pastas, salads, pizzas, meats and appetizers. An interesting take on an Italian starter, capellini cakes ($12.50), is similar in form to rice balls but deliver a richer flavor with pan fried angel hair pasta complemented by green peas, parma prosciutto, and mozzarella. The pink sauce below gave the dish a soft, creamy element that worked with the fried outer layer.

For a seafood lover, the shrimp cocktail ($17) is not only beautiful, but the lemon wedge squeezed on the jumbo “Chop House” style shrimp with a traditional cocktail sauce is a decadent delight.

La Piazza updates its menu every six months or so to introduce new plates while keeping customer favorites in play.

“We are constantly developing new dishes and putting our own spin on old-fashioned recipes,” Sexton said.

A classic wedge salad ($12) takes the word “wedge” seriously. A chunk of fresh, crisp iceberg lettuce is topped with beefsteak tomatoes, warm applewood smoked bacon and crumbled bleu cheese dressing.

Another dish delivered with greens is burrata served atop a bed of spring greens with slices of toasted baguette. The creaminess of the cheese is in harmony with the greens and balsamic dressing. It truly was heavenly how rich it was.

La Piazza also offers weekly specials, bringing back older dishes alongside new ones Sexton develops. The chicken chop parmigiana ($26) takes the Italian classic to the next level. The  parmesan-crusted chicken breast was tender and juicy, while the mozzarella oozed on top. The “Old World” Italian sauce had a wonderful taste and consistency.

La Piazza prides themselves on making everything in house from sauces to soups to desserts.

“Everything is fresh and ingredients are delivered every day,” Sexton said. “From that, we make everything from scratch. Our spaghetti is fresh, but all of our other pastas are imported from Italy.”

In May, Sexton introduced a full brunch menu at the Melville location. Although, some might not associate Italian and breakfast food together, breakfast with an Italian twist is anything but ordinary. La Piazza demonstrates that pizza really can be eaten for every meal with their uovo e prosciutto pizzette ($16). Cooked in a brick oven, the pizza is topped with melty fior di latte mozzarella, fresh eggs, prosciutto, red onion and arugula.

“It’s breakfast with a little spin,” Sexton said.

A popular order, eggs benedict ($14), hits a high note with its hollandaise sauce generously covering poached eggs, Canadian bacon and a toasted english muffin. The dish is united by its delectable flavor.

On the sweet side, La Piazza’s signature pancakes ($12) are thick, fluffy, and don’t let up on sweetness with syrup, bananas and powdered sugar. Also simple and delicious, a fresh fruit platter ($12) on skewers is accompanied by a honey-mint Greek yogurt sauce.

Finally, the brunch occasion was complete with classic refreshments, like Tito’s bloody mary ($13) or prosecco mimosa ($10). The bourbon bloody mary ($14) has a little more bite with bold flavors and crispy bacon as garnish.

“Brunch is typically a Sunday event, but I offer both days because there’s really nowhere to have breakfast around here,” Sexton said. “I feel we do very well for an Italian place.”

La Piazza
512 Walt Whitman Rd, Melville

 Cuisine: Italian
Atmosphere: Modern and hip
Price: Appetizers: $10.50-17, Pizza: $12-17, Pasta: $18-25, Entrees: $16-35
Hours: Sunday-Monday, 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.; Tuesday-Thursday, 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.