Zaza’s tosses fresh salads and pies
Zaza’s Pizza and Salad in the Heights, doesn’t seem like much at first. Offering mainly hand-crafted pizza and salads, plus some soups and sandwiches, it feels like another U.S. Pizza Co. Even less, actually, if you consider that U.S. Pizza Co. seats you and has waiters. In the end I was extremely surprised.
When I arrived around 6 p.m. on a Wednesday night, the restaurant wasn’t very busy, but we were waiting on friends, so we got a beer to start. They have a decent selection of beer to choose from, along with a small variety of red and white wines and margaritas. By the time the rest of our party arrived, around 6:30, the line to order was about 15 people deep and there were very few places left to sit. Once we ordered, our food was ready quickly. We walked away with the salads, and right about the time they were gone, the pizzas were brought to us.
Our group of five decided to split two salads and two pizzas, opting for the signature Zaza and Santa Fe salads, with a Petit Jean ham and pineapple and a Green + White pizza.
I’ll be honest, I am wary of salads. I hate paying $8 for a bunch of lettuce, but I loved both of these so much that I had more of each. The signature Zaza salad combines the flavor of fruits with pecans and spinach. They were out of the normal blueberries that night, so they substituted grapes, and it was still delicious. The strawberries were fresh, juicy and had just the right amount of tartness. The pecans were small enough to not be overwhelming and the small amount of balsamic and olive oil dressing was perfect.
The Santa Fe salad with grilled chicken (typically made with fried chicken) was wonderful. The combination of black beans, corn, tortilla strips, cheddar cheese and southwestern ranch brought a taste of Albequerque.
All of Zaza’s salads are made right in front of you, and you can add ingredients or take them away at will. Salads are tossed with a signature dressing, made fresh every day. You can even specify how much dressing you want. All of the salads cost $10.25 or less, and two people could get full on one without ordering anything else. If you do not like any of the standard salads you can also create your own with your choice of ingredients.
The pizza’s are made fresh to order, with dough made in house every day and hand tossed right in front of you. Each pizza is cooked in a stone oven for just the right amount of crisp. The Petit Jean ham and pineapple was wonderful, though it could have had more pineapple. I did not try the Green + White pizza, made with cheeses, spinach, caramelized onions, mushrooms and lemon, but it looked good and it went fast. The pizzas range from $9 to $13 and specials are offered each day.
Zaza’s also serves about 10 flavors of homemade gelato. I tried the chocolate and it was fabulous. The bananas foster tasted exactly right, a friend with our party said. It was the perfect ending to such a good meal.
Overall, Zaza’s was excellent and I will most definitely be going there again. The only bad thing I can say is that they don’t serve you at the table, which meant I used my debit card three separate times, once for my initial beer, once for food and a third time for the dessert. The staff was great though, and answered our questions, offered suggestions and were very friendly.