The deals: Free snacks, $3 beers, $4 house wine, $5 cocktails.
When: Monday-Friday from 4:30 to 8.
Piola's international flavor is no accident: The Italian-based pizzeria chain has branches scattered from Buenos Aires to Treviso, Italy. The lounge's funky industrial design includes colorful glass light shades overhead, an assortment of modern furniture and rotating exhibitions by local artists on the wall. Loud (almost too loud) house and trance music sets the party vibe.
"Would you like to try some pizza?" A server carrying a pie covered with a variety of mushrooms has stopped next to my barstool, offering small samples of the house pies. Another guy seems incredulous that they're free, but if there's one thing Piola does well, it's deals. Happy hour means $3 bottles of Stella Artois, Peroni and Pilsner Urquell and $4 red or white wines, while bartenders make strawberry and raspberry caipiroskas, or caipirinhas made with vodka ($5).
One of those raspberry drinks is destined for Jacki Silvan, a designer who frequently meets her friend Jim Branch at Piola for drinks. At first, they came because of the convenient location, but they've kept coming back for the excellent bartenders and the happy hour's timing.
As we talk, another server wanders by with a four-cheese pizza for nibbling. "I got here an hour ago," Branch says, "and they've been giving out free pizza since I've been here -- and we're still going to order two more [personal pizzas]. It's that good."
The deals don't stop with the workweek, either: From 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays, match any pizza on the menu with any beer for $12..
-- Fritz Hahn (April 11, 2008)