Pia’s lets food be the draw 

Good Italian in downtown Conway.

PIA PASTA: Pesto place.
  • PIA PASTA: Pesto place.

CONWAY -- The latest addition to downtown Conway’s growing restaurant scene is Pia’s, a small Italian place in an unassuming storefront at 915 Front St.

Unlike the grander Mike’s Place down the street or the more established Oak Street Bistro nearby, Pia’s hasn’t so far decided to get into the private-club alcohol permit battle. So it’s all up to the food to draw people in.

Judging from our visit, it should do OK.

We started with orders of bruschetta ($5.25) and ravioli fritti ($4.95). The bruschetta theoretically could change every day, but our waiter told us it’s usually prepared the way we got ours — with artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers and mozzarella. We couldn’t find a reason to quarrel with it, but our group definitely preferred the fried ravioli. It’s never been a favorite of ours — there always seems to be too much “fried” and not enough ravioli — but Pia’s version won us over, with a light batter that didn’t overwhelm the cheese and pasta inside.

Entrees come with soup or salad, and two of us chose the soup — that day, asiago cheese. It was rich and smooth, with bits of ham for flavor.

Pia’s has a wide range of entree choices for a restaurant of its size — more than a dozen, plus another six sandwich options.

The four in our group went with fettuccini Alfredo with chicken ($7.45, plus $2.50 for the added chicken); ravioli Florentine, a three-cheese-and-spinach concoction in Alfredo sauce ($8.25); Pia’s Special Ravioli, large squares striped like the Italian flag and filled with mascarpone and ricotta, topped with marinara ($12.95), and the pasta primavera ($8.75).

We’ll start with the bad news. The fettuccini part of the fettuccini Alfredo was fine, our diner reported, but the chicken breast — served whole on top of the pasta — was so overcooked on one side it was difficult to cut through, and dry.

But things looked up from there. The ravioli Florentine is a fantastic combination, full of flavor. We liked that pasta better than the Pia’s Special, which, don’t get us wrong, we were perfectly happy with until we tried the Florentine. However, Pia’s marinara sauce was such a hit that the member of our party who ordered the Florentine asked for a side of marinara to take home with her leftovers. It’s a light, chunky red sauce, distinctly sweet, and we’d recommend ordering anything that comes with it.

The primavera — penne with sauteed veggies — also drew praise for its light basil pesto sauce.

Other entree choices include lobster ravioli, lasagna, manicotti, cannelloni and Portobello mushroom steaks. But if we ever make it back, we’ll be tempted to order the Speciale de Pia sandwich: prosciutto, roasted red peppers, provolone and veggies with pesto mayo.

Pia’s is a family-friendly place, too. There’s a separate kids’ menu, but you can also order the Family Pasta — $23.95 for enough pasta, bread and salad to feed four people.

Desserts change daily, and on our visit were limited to three cheesecakes: mocha, Irish cream and chocolate. We got one of each, and all were creamy and delicious — especially, in our opinion, the mocha. Worth every calorie.


915 Front St.
Quick bite
You can’t go wrong with anything that comes with marinara sauce. Pia’s version is light, sweet and chunky.
11 a.m.-2 p.m., 5 p.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-2 p.m., 5 p.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.
Other info
Moderate prices. Credit cards accepted. No alcohol.


From the ArkTimes store


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Arkansas Times Staff

Readers also liked…

Most Shared

  • So much for a school settlement in Pulaski County

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Cynthia Howell got the scoop on what appears to be coming upheaval in the Pulaski County School District along with the likely end of any chance of a speedy resolution of school desegregation issues in Pulaski County.
  • Riverfest calls it quits

    The board of directors of Riverfest, Arkansas's largest and longest running music festival, announced today that the festival will no longer be held. Riverfest celebrated its 40th anniversary in June. A press release blamed competition from other festivals and the rising cost of performers fees for the decision.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Latest in Dining Review

Event Calendar

« »


2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation