More Piadina Please

A few years ago, if you had asked me what my favorite restaurant in Seattle was, I could have answered without hesitation. This is pretty unusual for me… I’m not one that easily compares things. I don’t have top 5 favorite albums or foods or movies. There are things I like, and things I don’t like, but putting them in order just seems beyond me. There are too many factors to weigh in… my mood, what I’ve been doing lately, who I’m with. So, it was odd that Osteria La Spiga always seemed to strike me as my favorite.

La Spiga was a tiny little, rustic in a kitschy sort of way, place tucked into the corner of shops along the south end of Broadway just before the “pill hill” where almost all of the hospitals in Seattle are situated. Service was always a little hit or miss, but the food, traditional Emilia-Romagna fare, was stunning. Handmade pastas with the perfect tenderness to make me swoon, slow-cooked meats which were fall off the bone tender, an affatatti misti plate with whisper thin proscuitto and other delights. But the one thing that drew me back over and over was the flat bread. Piadina is like a thick, tender flour tortilla, but with more flavor and bite. The little cut triangles of the warm bread are a perfect match for the prosciutto or cheese, or, even better, stuffed with goodies like fresh mozzarella, basil, wild mushrooms and truffle oil, and called a Crescione which in my mind translates to “food of the gods.” I could eat the flat bread, just plain and simple, piece after piece after piece if no one were around to stop me.


A couple of years ago, La Spiga moved from its funky and charming location to a new space that is about as different as is possible. Where the old location was always quite cramped, the new restaurant soars with double height ceilings and huge wooden beams, and at least 5 times the seating. The old place had a faux old world feel, while the new is warmly modern. The old location usually had one waitress or waiter for the whole room, where the new location seems to have staff winding their way around tables everywhere you look. It’s just as crowded as ever, but now there are pleasant places to wait instead of having to loom over the other diners. It’s truly a beautiful work of architecture.

The one thing, luckily, that hasn’t changed is the food. The menu may have grown along with the space, but my taglietelle ragu is as good as ever and I’d be hard pressed to find anyone that didn’t coo over the Filetto al Tartufo, butter knife tender filet drizzled with truffle oil. And then, there is the piadina. Yes, it’s still there and as good as ever.

These days though, when asked what my favorite restaurant in Seattle is, I hesitate. I still love La Spiga. I love the new space, the prompter service and the gorgeous food. But, still, I miss the old spot. I loved how its funky space and slowish service made you step back, slow down and stop worrying about what you were going to do next. You were going to sit there and eat your meal whenever it happened to arrive. And, with food like that, that was always enough. Especially when you could always ask for “a little more piadina please”.

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All of that is a very long way of saying that after years and years, I finally got around to making piadina at home. Traditionally, piadina is made with lard, and as you know, I just happen to have a whole lot of lard right now. I’m sure you could substitute vegetable shortening, but I think you’d miss out on some of the flavor and tenderness of the flat bread. I’ve also seen recipes that substitute olive oil, although this would likely make a bigger change in the texture of the dough.

I ended up using a recipe from Food & Wine which was exceedingly simple to make. So simple, in fact, that I have been kicking myself for not making it sooner. The F&W recipe called for baking soda, although many of the recipes I’ve seen don’t add any type of levening. Next time around, I plan on either leaving it out, substituting baking powder or just using less, because I thought that the flatbread had a tiny bit of a bitter after-taste from the soda.

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Regardless, the dough, after sitting, takes on this wonderfully smooth texture that is soft and easy to roll out to a nice thin round. Piadina should really be cooked on something like a pizza stone, but I don’t have one. A stove top griddle, however, works too, although getting the temperature right can be a little tricky. Near the end, my griddle was a little too hot in spots and I quickly scorched a few breads. Luckily, I still had plenty already cooked up for a nice lunch and nibble throughout the day.


recipe from Food & Wine

Tradition has it that you must not make piadina when the south-westerly wind blows… the warm, damp wind makes the dough too soft. So, best to save your piadina making days for the dry season.

Makes 6 rounds

3 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 t baking soda
Kosher salt
4 oz lard or vegetable shortening, at room temperature
3/4 c water
1 T olive oil, plus more for brushing

Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large bowl if you want to knead it by hand) and mix together with a fork. Cut the lard into 1 inch pieces and using a pastry knife cut the lard into the flour. You can just use the mixer for this, but I found it didn’t do a great job of mixing in the lard and the pastry knife was just easier.

Next, start to add the water, just a little bit at a time, and mix on the stand mixer with a dough hook on lowish speed until the dough starts to form into a ball. Increase the speed to medium, and let it knead until smooth, about 5 minutes.

Remove the bowl from the mixer and cover with a damp towel. Let the dough sit for 30 minutes at room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 225F. Heat the griddle on medium-high to quite hot.

Divide the dough into 6 pieces, and roll each piece out to 10 inch rounds. The discs should be about 1/8 inch thick. Lightly brush the bread on both sides with olive oil.

Place one or two rounds on the griddle (depending on the size of your griddle) and cook for about 2 minutes on each side, or until you see the little brown spots that mark when it’s done. Wrap in foil and place in the oven while the next round goes into the griddle. The piadina are best eaten warm, the day they are cooked.

  • Aran

    I think I need to make this lard piadina. It looks so tasty and I’m imagining how it must taste with lard. Melting and a bit salty… heaven! your photos are so beautiful. i love the photo of your hands. thanks for sharing!

  • Su-Lin

    Oh what a great looking recipe! There’s a place near me that sells wonderful piadina sandwiches but they’re a sometimes treat as they’re quite expensive!

  • sfixie

    wow, it’s amazing, i’m an italian girl..i live in a region called emilia-romagna in Italy and for case i came across this recipe..piadina is a typical food of my place, and discover that it’s famous also where you live is weird and funny!
    happy to see that you like it!

  • matt wright

    Great looking photos as usual! It is making me hungry, and I just ate breakfast. Not sure if you are a big fan of Indian food, but you should have a go at making Naan bread. I made them about a month ago now, and they are really darn addictive. I have even used them for sandwiches.

    I have yet to make it to LaSpiga, shame on me.

  • Francesca

    Oh my, I got homesick just looking at the photo. I haven’t had piadina in years since I can’t find a place in LA that makes it and I don’t go back to Italy very often. I am thinking of getting my hands on some lard and start making my own piadina now. Or… I could move to Seattle!

  • Gretchen Noelle

    These look delicious and I love these photos. Very nice. And only making it when it is dry? Interesting.

  • Natasha

    So yamy. I will try to make a pannini with an arabic laffa sort of flat bread.
    T-Xs for the idea. The Photography is fab as always.

  • Anna

    oh how your photos make me drool. delicious!

  • Snehal

    what a wonderfully simple recipe and oh so tempting! I am a sucker for breads of all kinds, the waft of them being baked in the oven or the smoky charred aroma when they are being dry roasted on the cooktop just make me swoon … this recipe reminds me of the Naan bread I made a couple of weeks ago.

  • Erin

    Beautiful. I have a soft spot in my heart for all forms of bread making at home. Maybe its my weird way of making peace with modernity, and purchasing everything else that sustains me. Your piadina turned out beautiful. I will look forward to giving these a try when we get home. By any chance did you use that lard from your previous post “Lard Help Me?”

  • Ali

    I really feel I have to leave my comment here… :) As I live in the piadina region (Romagna), and was born here, I am really happy (and proud) to see that there’s people enjoying piadina in Seattle! I sometimes make my piadina substituting lard with olive oil, for a lighter but equally delicious version…but I’m perfectly aware that tradition calls for lard!!! :)

  • suzanne simon

    this looks delicious. i will definitely have to try it and have been experimenting with making bread at home.

    thanks, suzanne

  • emma

    Those look really good, I’ll definitely have to give them a try. Your pictures are beautiful! I love how they are arranged Nice Job! I have tagged you for a meme!

  • kate

    i just came across this post and it made me very happy. i worked at la spiga for awhile and couldn’t believe how often we’d get complaints about how dry the piadina was or requests for bowlfuls of olive oil or even butter. so many people just didn’t get it. i would snack on it throughout my shift, though, and always felt i could identify with anyone who complimented it.



  • Kathleen

    What a brilliant idea – such a simple recipe with fabulous results (always my favorite!). Thank you so much for sharing the recipe with us, along with your tips and great photos.

  • Massimo

    I grew up on Piada (aka Paidina) while living in the Emilia Romagna region of Italy. Years ago lard was a key ingredient in piadina making, however today you will find piadina in every supermarket in the region with the package listing it as “Lard free”. Since some of the shortenings used were similar to Crisco’s which are composed of hydrogenated oils which translate into the “lethal transfats”, the newly reformed piadina is made with olive oil and pure non-hydrogenated vegetable oil. Some variations are also made with a percentage of whole wheat flour added to the white flour giving it a higher fiber content as well as a lower carbohydrate content. Either way enjoy this treat which can now be found here in the states from New York City to Seattle.. Another exotic treat is Crecentine (aka Tigelle) from Modena. There hot little tigelle are also cooked on a griddle and served with prosciutto and seasoned pork lard spread. Tigelle resemble english muffins and are served hot with a variety of things.

  • Annina

    Ohh…. I’m an Italian girl, in Pittsburgh right now for work, and this post is really making me feel homesick!!
    I’ve been living in Emilia-Romagna, the region the piadina comes from, for nearly 8 years… but I’m originally from Marche, where we have the “crescia sfogliata” instead. It is quite similar to the piadina, but -I think- more tasty, since its recipe also includes eggs. It is also a little bit more complicated to prepare, as the dough needs to be smeared with lard and folded several times, just like when you make puff pastry. However, I really think it worths while!!
    Here: you can find the description a nice blogger wrote about it.
    I also love both tigelle and crescentine, mentioned by Massimo: I’m planning to try to make them soon, if I will succed I will be happy to share the recipe!
    Thanks for this wonderful post! :-)

  • green apple sorbet

    I’ve just put a version of this on my blog. Thanks for sharing your experience of making it.
    Happy cooking :)