Introduction to Italian

MTPiatto Italiano is already popular, thanks to low prices and large servings.
Piatto Italiano is a good starting point for the inexperienced diner looking to get acquainted with Italian cuisine. This modest, modern eatery has an unpretentious atmosphere that would not intimidate even the most infrequent restaurant-goer. It's the kind of place you could take your pensioner relatives.

The menu could not offer more help to the uninitiated. At the back, there is a section with pictures and descriptions of various types of pasta. A map shows the different regions of Italy. What's more, the menu specifies each dish's region of origin -- and for those watching their waistline, there is even a calorie count.

The menu is straightforward and doesn't offer anything too challenging. Salads include Caesar with either chicken or salmon for 220 rubles and a Greek salad for 160 rubles. Other Moscow staples include tomato with mozzarella for 240 rubles and beef carpaccio at 240 rubles.

The soups are reasonable -- seafood for 140 rubles, cream of mushroom 120 rubles and cream of spinach 120 rubles.

Since this is a democratically positioned eatery, it's the pizzas and pastas that take pride of place on the menu. Pizzas start at 150 rubles for a margarita and go up to 230 rubles for diavola with spicy salami and olives. A vegetarian pizza costs 170 rubles. A regular calzone costs 190 rubles and one with spinach costs 140 rubles. Pasta dishes start at 160 rubles for a simple spaghetti with garlic and basil and go up to 300 rubles for fusilli with broccoli, salmon, red caviar and cream. The serving sizes are generous.

While perhaps the most striking design feature is the wine crates set into some mirrored columns in the middle of the dining room, on a recent visit Piatto Italiano had yet to add any wine to the menu. Beer starts at 80 rubles for a half-liter of Nevskoye.

14/19 Novoslobodskaya Ul., Bldg. 4, 787-6334, M. Mendeleyevskaya.