Grilling Alla Piastra: Review
Piastra (Granite Grilling Stone by Mario Batali)
Suggested Price: $50
Product Link: www.italiankitchen.com/videogallery
While traditionally cooking alla piastra (on a flat griddle) is usually done on a cast iron slate over an open flame, Mario Batali decided to make it out of granite. Whether this is ingenious or not, I am not sure. But cast iron rusts, but granite can crack. I found one review online that gave an instance to the granite grill cracking. It does however, come with a warranty.
Now, as many of you probably know, Mario Batali is my hero, and what I consider an American Hero. He is what Italian Cooking in the 1990s up to present, as was Julia Child was to America and French Cooking in the 1970s. He has made it simple, he has made it fashionable and if you still don’t get it, you can visit any one of his dozen or so restaurants around the country (I know I have). However, and as much as it it pains me to say this, I am very disappointed in his line of cookware, starting with my first purchase of the dutch oven. The enamel on the bottom seems to be cracking and it rusts thru the uncoated top edge when sitting in water overnight to soak.
The granite “piastra” out of the box is not impressive, its relatively inexpensive, but even the emblem/logo of the “M” is chipping and not clear. Do I care? Not really, what bothers me about all of this is that you know its an inferior manufactured product because it was made in China. The very best set of cooking pans I bought were from Emeril, however, even though they were made in China, they still are superior to anything I have ever used. This “knock off” of the Iron Clad company sells for a hundred dollars or more less. But when celebrities put their name on something, I wish there was a way for them to cut a deal with these genuine American companies to sell it for the same price or less since their name is going on it, because you know the sale of the product would be greater in quantity. But what do I know? I am just a simple home cook and I don’t own dozens of restaurants. But, I am a consumer that knows that once we sell American engineering to people like the communist country of China, the technology will be stolen, replicated, mass produced and sold for half the price to dozens of other countries who never knew the American product. Its counterfeiting, I don’t care what you call it, and I am sure the American celebrity chefs are aware of this practice by now, if not, they are more consumed by their own celebrity and success and need to take a closer look. And, take a look at the bigger picture: People around the world buy the cheaper product from communist countries like China and not from US or its allies. Less income from “authentic” companies results in the world wide recession we are in. If anyone thinks this is a stretch, you need to educate yourself. I can’t do it all in one blog but I have written about it before.
So the pros of this product:
– Relatively inexpensive
– Has 2 sides; one for grilling, and the opposite side as a flat griddle
– Unique, effective, heats evenly, low maintenance.
– Made in China (not in Italy, or American or by any of the European countries who invented it).
– It may be prone to defects, cracking, chipping, etc., especially if left out in the cold and then exposed to extreme temperatures
– A new product, still not thoroughly consumer tested or professionally reviewed.
For those of you who are new to grilling, we might suggest buying Mario Batali’s book “Italian Grill”, many of the recipes make reference to the “piastra”. But whether or not this is equal to, better, or worse than a pizza stone, I cannot personally say, as I am still going to try to work this thing to death this summer to update this review.