Driving downtown for this review on a recent Saturday night, my husband and I wondered what events were drawing the heavy traffic and myriad parked cars. Probably holiday parties or a Steelheads hockey game, we figured. We walked a block in the freezing night, then stepped into Piazza di Vino wine bar around 6:45 p.m. and discovered it empty, except for us and two employees. I worry when a wine bar like the jazzy Piazza di Vino is deserted on a bustling evening in downtown Boise because—let's be honest—Boise has its fair share of wine aficionados. We shrugged off our coats and settled in at a corner table by the storefront window, which is framed in long, swooping swags of purple velvet. Black and white checkerboard flooring and a curved, concrete-topped bar define the space. Short columns of horizontal wine bottles that are displayed against a mirrored backdrop behind the bar provide punctuation.
We were quickly greeted by Mohammed, who was friendly and casually dressed. Looking over the menu it quickly became evident that the primary focus at Piazza di Vino is wine. A couple of loose pages tucked into the menu made picking a wine a confusing chore. After fumbling through, we went with one of Mohammed's suggestions from the "red wine by the glass" page. He quickly returned with glasses of Fonterutoli "Badiola" Super Tuscan from Italy ($9/glass), and its peppery warmth quickly thawed the last bit of chill from the cold night.
As we sipped we looked over the short, single-page food menu, comprised of six appetizers, five salads and six pizzas. We decided to share one of each. Although we considered an Italian meat plate ($12.95) with grape tomatoes, olives and garlic bread, we chose the hummus plate ($5.95) because Mohammed said everybody likes their hummus.
We were served a generous dollop of cumin-heavy hummus surrounded by a dozen warm pita triangles. We almost selected the seafood pizza ($8.95) with crab, shrimp and anchovies, but opted for the caprese ($7.95) with fresh basil leaves and fresh-tasting tomatoes beneath a layer of melted mozzarella. It came on a 7-inch crust that was warm and crispy enough but seemed like a store-bought produc. I'm a scratch cook with an aversion to packaged white bread products.
We also shared the Piazza salad ($7.95) from which I unfortunately pulled out several leaves that showed slimy evidence of deterioration. After dinner we took a peek at the art gallery upstairs and saw approximately a dozen life-size photos of nude female torsos wearing clinging, sheer fabric.
When we left we both agreed that Piazza di Vino seemed like a cool little wine lover's hideout. The food was better than the pretzels you get at a dive bar or the deep-fried food from a sports bar, but it was nothing like the gourmet goodies at another wine bar nearby. After the wine buzz wore off, however, I was left with a seedy impression about the place that I couldn't quite shake. I'm sure there are wine aficionados in Boise who would enjoy Piazza di Vino's hideout location, big wine selection and even the nude art, but since I don't drink a lot of wine I probably won't go back.
—Jennifer Hernandez wanted to be first in line at the last-minute shopper stampede.