The Skinny: The Battle of La Piccola Cucina

By Wynter Holden

I've never had the experience of simultaneously finding it incredibly easy and agonizingly difficult to stick to my diet. That is, until now. I hadn't been to the little cafe that opened up just south of MacAlpine's on 7th Street, so I scheduled an interview there last week.

For sure, La Piccola Cucina is totally cute. It's tucked in a converted house with wood floors and tin ceilings; although it's hard to spot behind the large hedges and patio umbrellas shading the stone patio. They've got a decent selection of paninis, which sounded great, but my eyes went straight to the glass cabinet stocked with charcuterie-style meats, salads and veggies.

With the plate lunch/dinner, you get to choose one meat and two side dishes from the counter and they'll heat 'em up for you. I don't reheat food and I don't own a microwave (because I'm one of those pseudo-hippie nuts that secretly fear the radiation...shh, don't tell), so it was a little weird. But unless you're really anti-leftovers, it shouldn't faze you.

I sighed with relief when I looked over the choices.

First off, if you're on the Atkins or South Beach diet plans, this is a great place to go. They've got piles of roasted pork, beef, pesto chicken and a handful of other meat choices. It's protein paradise! Choosing two sides was bit more difficult. You'll have to dodge the pasta and potatoes (which my interviewee got, so I can tell you they smell amazing!) if you're counting carbs. Luckily, there are plenty of savory looking greens to distract you.

A few minutes later, my plate of roast turkey, garlic spinach and Greek salad arrived. I admit, it tasted freshly cooked. I don't know how they did it. I probably don't want to know. The turkey was juicy, the spinach perfectly wilted and the salad fresh and filling. I'm sure it added a few calories, but the cranberry relish served with the turkey was so delish that I would've licked the ramekin clean if I wasn't with a work contact.

Why is it so difficult to be good at La Piccola? What I haven't told you is that the two glass cases preceding the entree counter are stuffed full of sorbets and orgasmic looking pastries. We're talking cream-filled chocolate covered pies, chewy caramel coconut bars, pistachio and blood orange gelato (I'll stop now before the drool short circuits my computer). It was a battle of wills -- between me and the cream puffs.

I'm going to dish some atypical advice this week. When dining at La Piccola Cucina, eat more. Lots more. Stuff your belly so full that you practically roll out their pretty glass door. My theory is, better your mouth be crammed with spinach than with chocolate pastry.

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