A worthy new quick-casual chain has landed in Fort Worth.
Piada Italian Street Food’s first Tarrant County location opens Friday in Alliance Town Center, and at its soft-opening event, I learned something new about Italian food and found good veggie options.
Piada is inspired by street food in Rimini, a coastal town in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region. Core menu items include the piada, a thin round of handmade dough (akin to a tortilla or crepe) that’s grilled in front of you, then rolled up with fillings of your choice; and the tasca, a small sandwich using a version of this dough. There are angel-hair pasta bowls and chopped salads, too.
Most of the menu items feature chicken, steak and seafood, but meatless diners can create their own piada (wrap), tasca (sandwich) or pasta or salad bowl.
I think this is among the best of the Chipotle-style chains where you walk down a line pointing at ingredients to have added to your dish. I liked seeing two kinds of pesto, lots of veggies including sundried tomatoes and grilled artichokes, and fresh mozzarella, feta and other cheeses.
The three seasonal side salads were excellent: orzo crunch, Tuscan kale detox, and quinoa, each complex and full of flavor. There’s also wine and four flavors of fruity Italian sodas on tap. 3300 Heritage Trace Parkway, Suite 110, next door to Starbucks. mypiada.com
Right across I-35, Tom+Chee, which opened about a month ago, is a bit more like fast food in atmosphere and quality. As the name hints, this chain specializes in grilled cheese and tomato soup, and you can build your own from ingredients that include 11 cheeses (vegan among them) and five breads (including gluten-free).
I’m a grilled-cheese purist, as I wrote a few years ago, but you also can add items from a list of meats, veggies and seasonings (things like onions and mushrooms, yes, but also blueberry compote). One creation from the menu’s “Fancy Grilled Cheese” section involves hummus, cucumber, lettuce and tomato.
I liked the basic Tom+Chee just fine, with hearty white bread, diced tomato, mozzarella, cheddar and garlic seasoning. Next time I might go wild and try goat cheese and pumpernickel.
Tom+Chee also has several salads, three versions of tomato soup, including two vegan, and nine varieties of grilled-cheese doughnuts (“As Seen on TV!”), dessert sandwiches that use doughnuts as the bread.
Someone braver than I will have to try those. 8901 Tehama Ridge Parkway, Fort Worth; 817-847-7635; tomandchee.com
For some of us, the biggest news from Texas Rangers Opening Day on Monday will be the debut of Ballpark Vegan, a vegan food cart that promises a black bean burger, a vegan hot dog, vegan chili, and even vegan nachos and jerky (!).
There’s also a Shake It Up Salad, a housemade salad in a shakable cup with dressing on the side. Until now, baseball-loving vegans have had to make do with little more than peanuts, and vegetarians with day-glo nacho cheese goo and questionable pizza.
Find Ballpark Vegan in Globe Life Park’s section 16.
Fort Worth Food + Wine Fest
It’s a challenge to eat veggie at something like this weekend’s Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival, where chefs typically aim to dazzle with one great dish at each event.
You can’t ask them to change it much, except to leave components off the plate, which sometimes leaves you with nothing at all. And you have to remember they don’t have kitchens to work in, they’ve just set up a makeshift station atop a buffet table.
But for those who want to participate in the biggest event on Fort Worth’s culinary calendar, the best festival events in years past have been Rise and Dine, the brunch tasting, and #latenight Desserts After Dark, which is all desserts.
At last year’s Rise and Dine, plenty of chefs did naturally vegetarian plates (it helps if you love eggs and cheese) and others modified their dishes for me on request. I found more than enough to eat, and there were bloody marys, too. Rise and Dine is 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday at the Pier 1 Imports building, 100 Pier 1 Place, Fort Worth; $65.
The desserts event, with 12 mixologists and 12 chefs (who’ve been asked to use Firestone & Robertson’s TX Blended Whiskey in their creations), will include a cheese maker this year, Mozzarella Company of Dallas. #latenight Desserts After Dark is 9 p.m. to midnight Friday at the Shack at Panther Island, 395 Purcey St., Fort Worth. fortworthfoodandwinefestival.com
Have a suggestion, a veggie news tip or a question? Send it to Marilyn at email@example.com, or follow her on Twitter, @LonesomeVeg. For more Lonesome Vegetarian columns, visit dfw.com/vegetarian.