The recent four-star review of ZaZa in the Birmingham News' City Scene reminded me, I've been meaning to post something about the wonderful lunch we had there last month.
The owners both have worked for Frank Stitt at Chez FonFon. But they've taken that love for fresh, seasonal ingredients and gone in a totally different direction with it. I mean, I love Stitt and his restaurants, but there are too many of his protege's in this town trying to do something that's too close to the master (and they typically fall short).
ZaZa Trattoria, downtown on 20th, is chic and casual (order-at-the-counter style) and very urban-feeling, open for breakfast and lunch, as well as Sunday brunch and Friday dinner.
The centerpiece of the menu is pizza, but this is pizza unlike any other in Birmingham. According to their web site, the roman-style doughs are made daily -- a four hour process, plus another 30 minutes to stretch the dough before baking. The result is a flavorful crust that manages to be light and hearty, tender and crispy all at the same time. It reminded us of a thin focaccia.
There are several flavors to choose from each day. A veggie pizza exploded with fresh corn, mushrooms, and peppers. One tangy melty goat cheese crumble made me wish there had been a little more of it on there. We also sampled the spicy sausage pizza (some of the sausage pieces were zestier than others), and one with pepperoni. A few more pieces of sausage would have been nice. But we're looking at quality rather than quantity, after all. I'd rather have a few pieces of really good sausage on my pizza than have it piled with the stuff they call sausage at some chains!
We also had soup of the day, in this case a late-summer tomato-basil soup that made me close my eyes and savor each mouthful in a state of bliss; and a nice side salad of gourmet mixed greens (including some you won't find in your typical grocery store mesclun mix), with a dressing that wasn't too vinegary or heavy.
Pizza, soup and salad wasn't enough for a full-fledged review, so we'll definitely be back to try some of the sandwiches, pasta (you don't see orecchiette or bucatini on too many menus in Bham), and other salads (I almost ordered the arugula, pear, pecan and gorgonzola salad before I saw the tomato soup). And we hear they serve a great breakfast and even better Sunday brunch.
The name has changed to Trattoria Centrale to avoid confusion with a Montgomery outfit names Sa Za.