For some fine Italian plates

    In Santa Fe, a student-friendly 15-dollar 3-mile cab ride can bring you to a student-sophisticated 15-dollar 3-course prix fixe lunch. It’s just a matter of trusting your cab driver.

    We were too lazy to read the maps downtown or to plan a lunch spot, sorta in the picky mood for good food in a refined atmosphere, and hungry. We blankly browsed through the recommended list given to us when the conference started, but everything looked oddly the same: just black ink. It wouldn’t hurt, so we asked our taxi driver. At first, she mentioned a couple of Mexican fares, but Bumble Bee’s burrito was still fresh in our mouth mind from the night before. Then she brought up Il Piatto, a cozy resto italiano a few blocks away from the buzzing Plaza. Her sister likes to go there. So did we.

    The 15-dollar prix fixe lunch must be the draw-in factor of Il Piatto, but its patronage crowd remains the middle-aged-and-overs, who can nonchalantly drown the Wednesday afternoon sun in their wine glass, gleefully talk about their family for hours without worrying about their family, that sort of things. In that manner, Il Piatto reflects the atmosphere of Santa Fe as a whole: relaxing yet cultured.

    Its food matches its ‘sphere, from the crunchy starter bread and the salty olive oil, which receives a stamp of approval from Jen, the olive oil lover. Hyunmi’s Tomato Mozzarella salad brings forth the simple but well-paired mix of basil pesto and briny parmigiano, which is topped with melting soft roasted bell pepper and a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette.

    Jen’s Zuppa del Giorno is a chilled tomato and basil soup. (Ah yes, Il Piatto’s prix fixe allows the patron to choose any three dishes on the menu for a total of $14.95). Here’s an embarrassing story. At the table, Jen and I asked each other what “giorno” means. She’s been to France and I once studied Spanish, we both felt that “giorno” sounds utterly familiar, but clueless we still were. Just now, as I’m typing this post, the light bulb turns on: giorno ~ jornada ~ jour = day, so zuppa del giorno is just soupe du jour. :-/ Yeah… *hands cover face*. Anywaiz, me likes Jen’s soup.

    But my Grilled Calamari was pretty munchtastic, too. With the plumpness safely tucked in, chewy squid and crunchy bell pepper couple like butterflies and wild flowers.

    The second courses arrived soon after. I went with my gut feelings and ordered the chicken liver (no pun intended), sauteed with pancetta and shallots in a red wine vinegar reduction. Liver always tastes like chocolate to me, so I’ve never had a disappointing liver dish. Hyunmi confirmed that this one is good and that “it tastes like liver”. Its accompanying grilled squash and bell pepper were the best seasoned grilled squash and bell pepper I’ve ever had. Jen’s eyes lit up when she took a bite. It’s okay, Jen, your garden salad was tossed with some darn good lemon vinaigrette!

    Hyunmi chose the Italian classic: spaghetti and meatballs. ‘Cept these meatballs are said to have beef, lamb, and pork altogether. I like Koreans because they like meat, among other things. 😀

    Il Piatto needs to have vegan desserts, though. Jen was munching more bread and olive oil while Hyunmi and I shared a zabaglione (egg custard) and a caramel & raisin bread pudding.

    Personally, I prefer the bread pudding for its burnt corners and spongy texture, but the zabaglione is just so easy to eat, like yogurt, that it’s hard to stop digging in.

    If we come here again, one of us will have to try the tiramisu to cover all three desserts in the dolce section. 😛 It’d be economic too, because Il Piatto absolutely refuses to let you pay the $14.95 without getting 3 dishes, even if your 2 choices total to $15.58. You have to get more to pay less. It doesn’t make sense, but there’s no harm in taking a to-go box either. 🙂

    Address: Il Piatto (The Plate)
    95 W. Marcy Street
    Santa Fe, NM 87501
    (505) 984-1091

    Lunch for three: $52.44

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    2 comments to For some fine Italian plates

    • Bob

      That is some good looking food, sounds like a real hit. Those desserts killed me tonight. So wants! That and the squid, I need that too.

    • Mai

      I think you’d like the zabaglione, it was pretty similar to the soft serve at Hawker Fare. 🙂

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