Marietta Daily Journal (GA)

 Local and fresh: Modern Italian food is made the old-fashioned way at Marietta Square eatery  
     Published: November 18, 2015
 Italian food has come a long way in the United States from its beginnings as home cooking in immigrant kitchens and lovable canned spaghetti for the masses.  Recently opened restaurant Piastra — Italian for “plate” — in Marietta, features chef Greg Lipman’s take on modern Italian cuisine. It’s a careful concoction of dishes and ideas developed over 27 years of culinary curiosity and experience.One thing matters to Lipman a great deal.“My food is fresh,” he said.The fish on the menu are not farmed, but come from the temperate waters of the Gulf of Mexico.“The fish I serve on Friday were swimming on Wednesday,” Lipman said.The restaurant even boasts its own mushroom forager in widely-recognized fungi finder Chris Matherly. Matherly is head of the Morel Mushroom Hunting Club and star of more than 200 YouTube videos detailing how to find and identify edible mushrooms.The calamari is American, not imported from China as in many eateries. Much of the menu is made by hand.“I make my own cannoli shells, all the breads, sauces and dressings,” Lipman said. “There is no soy in this building. I do everything I can to avoid GMOs.”While Lipman, 41, is not Italian by birth or culture, he identifies with the feeling behind the dishes he creates.“I’m Jewish,” he said. “And for both Italians and Jews, food means love.”Italian food is traditionally associated with family and that’s no different at Piastra. Lipman acts as the operator and chef and his mother, Betty Bahl, is his business partner.He grew up in the Northeast and studied at the New England Culinary Institute, followed by a career in the professional kitchens of Boston.What brought him to Georgia?“Snow,” he said without hesitation.“The last winter I spent in Boston, there were three blizzards in a row. After the last one, it took four of us three and a half hours to dig out our three cars.“I said, ‘Check please. I’m going to Atlanta,’” he said.Lipman chose Atlanta not only for the weather but also because it was named in the top ten cities for singles over 30 and he found the cost of living as mild as the climate.After moving south, he met his wife, a native Georgian, and they live in east Cobb with their 1-year-old daughter.When Lipman opened Piastra in the space that once housed the La Famiglia restaurant, he felt clear about the experience he wanted to create for diners.“We are family friendly,” he said. “And I make the food taste good using the best ingredients I can find and still keep it friendly for the pocketbook.”Entrees start at $13.95 and the menu includes made-in-house mozzarella, four-cheese lasagna crafted from hand-rolled pasta and wild mushroom risotto. Chicken, eggplant, veal, pork and shellfish dishes are served with sides that include roasted potatoes and grilled broccoli.The wine list features a variety of reds and whites, plus six different Chiantis.Weekly dinner specials are on the menu in limited quantity. “When we sell out, we sell out,” Lipman said, and he hopes to start serving lunch before too long.“We try to keep everything as local as possible and as fresh as possible,” he said of a menu that also features special seasonal dishes.“We are glad to be part of this community,” he said. “We are really happy to be here.”Piastra serves dinner daily except for Mondays at 45 West Park Square NE in Marietta. Hours are Tuesday through Sunday from 5 to 9 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays until 10 p.m.For more information, visit

Copyright 2015, Marietta Daily Journal. All Rights Reserved.

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