Mystery Diner: The spotlight’s on the sauce at Zaza Italian Eatery
The mirror-lined dining room of Zaza’s Italian Eatery in Ingleside welcomed us as we trekked in from a very hot day. While its interior is somewhat dated, Zaza’s seems to have a quiet manufactured charm about it with Italian-themed decorations, soft lights and a friendly waitstaff.
After we were seated and ordered our drinks, we were excited to hear the specials. What we didn’t expect was for nearly ten of them to be listed off. After the first couple, we couldn’t do much other than stare at our waitress with information overload. The amount of specials could stand to be pared down. Something curious about the whole specials speech was what another waitress said to her table. They had mentioned that was a lot to memorize - she countered with “they’re the same every day.” If the specials are the same every day, they aren’t really specials, are they? Put them on the menu, maybe highlight one or two every week, and save the waitstaff and customers a mouthful.
Our meal came in five courses. Bread, soup, salad, appetizer, entree. The crusty bread with Parmesan and olive oil traditional to Italian restaurants was lovely and familiar, like a safety blanket introducing you slowly into the Italian world. My partner had the Cream of Spinach soup. It was exactly as described - creamy and chock full of the green goodness. The soup didn’t last long in the bowl. Due to allergies, I couldn’t have soup so instead opted for a substitute side of pasta with my eventual meal, although it appeared later that I was charged extra. Our appetizer, the giambotta, took us by surprise. I’m not sure exactly what we were expecting, but what we got was a delicious concoction of sausage slices, green peppers, onions and mushrooms in a bowl of wonderfully flavorful gravy. It was delicious as an appetizer, and could be even better paired with pasta as a main dish. When we received our entrees (mine a chicken dish with artichokes, mushrooms and a creamy wine sauce, and my cohort’s pasta with half vodka sauce and half garlic cream sauce), it was clear the sauces were the stars of the dishes. Thick, creamy and flavorful, the entrees were nearly swimming in the sauce - and for once that wasn’t a bad thing.
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