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Huzzah for Za Za

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.

Posted on Thursday, October 29, 2009 at 09:51PM by Registered CommenterDeborah Lockridge in | Comments3 Comments

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Reader Comments (3)

Completely agree with your post, and I'm glad you wrote it. More people need to know about ZaZa!

We went for dinner a few months back and it was wonderful. Half our group got butternut squash pasta and the others had pizza. Both were wonderful. And their staff was extremely helpful and attentive. When we went on a Friday night they still were without liquor license so it was BYOB. Not sure if that is still the case?

Either way, it's still a great new spot in town!

November 3, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterLibby

Just came back from Za Za. I had a spinach slice and salami slice. Both excellent. The crust was crispy yet chewy and quite flavorful. The spinach and tomatoes was quite refreshing. The salami was savory with carmalized onions. Two slices and a coke for 6.00. Pretty cheap considering the quality. I cant wait to try their soups. We finally have a good Trattoria!

November 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick

I've been meaning to try this place out and I just got back from having lunch there! At first, I was a little apprehensive seeing a group of guys that didn't really look like chefs behind the counter but they were very helpful and service was great and most importantly the food was soo goood!! I had a slice of pizza with mushrooms and carmelized onions - crust was crispy but still had substance - like the reviewer above mentioned, the creamy mushroom soup - seemed like it was pureed - the flavor was delicious if you like mushrooms! Then I ate half of the house roasted beef, arugula, & percorino sandwich - mm mm mm is all I have to say! The beef is very flavorful and the bread is not that thick kind that cuts into your mouth - it's soft - also had slices of onions in there that gave it that extra flavor - I will be going back to this place!

December 8, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRA

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