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Grill marks a la granite

Mario Batali's granite piastra lets you cook fish, meat, bread and vegetables alla piastra style on a stone over an open flame.

The Granite Piastra has a raised grill surface on one side and a flat griddle on the other. Sur la table
As a frequent host of dinner parties, I like to impress my guests. More often than not, my best impressions come from the presentation of my dishes. As a result, I seldom grill food for my guests, since the only outdoor grill I have is my roommate's, which (because I live in an apartment building) necessitates frequent trips to the roof. In any case, using the traditional grill for the more delicate pieces of fish I'm so in love with can be a recipe for disaster. I could pan fry a piece of fish and call it "grilled," but the telltale absence of grill marks would be enough to tip off some of my more observant guests. Plus, why lie?

I used to have a grill pan (you know, one of those that fits on your stove) that cost about 10 bucks. It didn't make the move out to the east coast, though, because after only a few uses it had warped and begun to cook unevenly. OK, so the grill pan is out, but the real grill is impossible for me to use without completely demolishing my piece of fish. Will no kitchen appliance or gadget come to my rescue?

Never fear, Mario Batali's Granite Piastra is here! It lets you cook alla piastra, an Italian tradition of cooking on a stone over an open flame. The granite is of a special type that conducts heat much like a cast-iron pan would, but since it's made out of stone, it won't warp like my cast-iron pan did. It has one surface with raised grill stones on it (for creating the telltale grill marks that brand you as a good cook), and the other surface is a flat griddle (shown in the picture above). It's also oven and microwave safe, won't rust, and is 10-inches tall by 14-inches wide (the perfect size to fit on both your stove and the outside grill.

And plus, with a guy like Mario Batali backing a product, can't we be sure that it's going to be good?

The Granite Piastra is available on Sur la Table's Web site for $49.95.