Piccolino Bistro is a beloved neighbourhood institution. Located in an unassuming Parkview strip mall, Piccolino's has been slinging out Italian comfort food to a consistently packed house for years and years.
Because it's so popular, reservations are definitely a must, lest you risk being turned away or waiting for far too long. Bearing that in mind, we made a reservation a week in advance for a 6:00 seating on Friday for four. The only stipulation that they gave us was that we needed to vacate by 8:00 for the next table.
The reason we chose Piccolino's was to celebrate AL's birthday since it's her favourite restaurant. With Christmas and travel plans spreading our group in different directions, we had to celebrate rather early. Nonetheless, HAPPY BIRTHDAY AL! (ﾉ◕ヮ◕)ﾉ*:･ﾟ✧
After about an hour's car journey through rush hour traffic and slick roads, I arrived surprisingly on time, quickly followed by AL who literally lives down the street (lucky her!). We were seated promptly in a booth, with KN and SC sliding in shortly after.
Though the dining area is loud and bustling, the dim lighting and small confines of the restaurant make it a cozy and intimate affair. Our waiter was friendly and personable, often making jokes and teasing us as if we were old friends.
(Also, please excuse the photo quality! We made do with lighting from our phones but it was still horrible shooting in such a dark setting. #firstworldproblems)
A plate of olive oil and balsamic vinegar was already set up on the table beforehand. A bread basket soon followed, featuring slices of a crusty French loaf. Since we were quick to polish it off, we were also given a refill of the bread.
AL, the birthday girl, ordered her favourite dish at Piccolino's, the fettuccine alfredo ($19.95). The dish is comprised of homemade fettuccine pasta and smoked chicken served in a cream sauce. I didn't try any, but AL was perfectly happy and content. No complaints here.
SC had a hard time choosing but ultimately ordered the fig pizza (12" for $24.00). The thin crust was topped with mascarpone, prosciutto, figs, shaved grana padano, a drizzle of honey, and lemon dressed arugula. SC really liked the addition of the creamy mascarpone, but thought that the combination of fig and honey made the pizza a bit too sweet for her taste.
KN decided to get the stuffed chicken ($25.80), which was a chicken breast stuffed with prosciutto ham, provolone cheese, and spinach, then topped with a green peppercorn demiglace. KN also decided to get a side of pasta in cream sauce in lieu of vegetables and potatoes. Overall, KN thought that the chicken was rich and tender, almost duck-like, with a nice crispy skin. The pasta however was average and a bit too heavy; she said she would have preferred getting the vegetables next time around.
As for my dish, I ordered the pollo parmigiana ($24.80), which was a breaded chicken breast, topped with ham and mozarella cheese. I also got the side pasta, but with tomato sauce. First impression: holy batman, that's a lot of food! The picture really doesn't do the portion size justice, as I had more than enough leftovers for lunch the next day.
I thought the chicken had good flavour, but I wish the breading retained some crispness as the liberal serving of tomato sauce made things quite soggy. Overall, it was a decent meal, but nothing mind-blowing.
After our plates were quickly cleared away and packed into boxes, we decided on a couple of desserts to share. Although there's a small booklet of frozen gelato options, there's not really a formal dessert menu, as most of the choices were quickly rambled off by our server.
I doubt that any of the desserts are made in-house, except for maybe the tiramisu ($7.00). I'm not a huge fan of tiramisu, so I'm not the best judge, but I can tell with my bite that it was creamy and generously strong on the coffee. SC thought it was nothing special.
We also decided to share a slice of the red velvet cake ($7.00). The cake was alright, a bit dense but not too sweet. We can't really judge a restaurant based on its restaurant supplier, can we?
Despite being family-run and serving wholesome Italian comfort food, I didn't feel like Piccolino's is the type of restaurant that you can sit back and relax in. Even though I was notified over the phone that we had until 8:00, the whole dinner felt very rushed, almost like we were cattle being herded through. Before it was even 7:30, we were told that the next table had already arrived and that we would need to vacate. It wasn't that big of an issue as we were finished with our meals, but it just meant having to open birthday gifts and say our goodbyes relatively quickly.
If you're looking to spend quality time and savour your meal, I wouldn't suggest Piccolino's, but if you're just looking to carbo-load (like many an Oiler who are rumoured to frequent the restaurant), then you're definitely at the right place.