"Boston's Old Vegas Strip" is 15 minutes north of Beantown
On Route 1 a few minutes north of Boston, ZaZa's is an eclectic combination of great food, family dining and entertainment and Tapas.
By Walter & Patricia Brooks
Let's start out with ZaZa's own Youtube vid.
Pat started with ZaZa Wings in a spicy honey mustard or buffalo sauce with bleu cheese dressing, $8.
I opted for ZaZa's Clams Casino stuffed with crispy pancette, roasted peppers, onions, $10.
The two huge Veal Bracciolatini, rolled and stuffed with asiago cheese, portobello mushroom and prosciutto finished in citrus garlic wine sauce with artichoke hearts, spinach and sun-dried tomatoes served over pappardelle pasta, $20 was remarkable.
Pat devoured her Herb-Rubbed Rack of Lamb
pan-roasted and served au jus with butternut squash and asparagus, $26.
Chef Ricky Alvarenga and manager Christ Rozzi.
When in Boston do as the locals do, and head north for a different scene than downtown.
We've driven past the hundred-plus restaurants on the Route 1 stretch just north of the city, usually on our way to Maine or New Hampshire in the early morning, and it never occurred to us to come back for dinner, until this weekend.
We were seeking a change and took another writer's advise to have dinner at a nightclub, not the usual choice when looking to dine out in Boston.
Luckily Pat and I still listen to others, and ZaZa's, a fifteen minute ride north of our hotel, was a very pleasant surprise.
The owners did a good job with the décor which complemented the food which looked and smelled wonderful wafting its way from the kitchen.
Zaza's changes from a restaurant to a dance club around 10:00 pm.
One guest told us this transformation took longer than they thought it would some nights because they often arrive around 10:30 while the large, circular bar is still six-deep, but the restaurant was still seating people for dinner taking orders.
ZaZa isn't missing a beat and is cashing in on the Tiger Woods drama. The restaurant has a drink called the "Two-Timing Tiger" composed of Grey Goose vodka, extra dirty olive juice and 14 blue cheesy stuffed olives, one for each of Tiger's affairs.
But by 11 pm the dj was doing his thing and the place was thumping.
But the atmosphere is still "family". The night we visited there were babies at one table and a post-wedding bridal shower going on at another.
What we ate:
Pat started with ZaZa Wings in a spicy, hot buffalo sauce with blue cheese dressing, $8, while I opted for ZaZa's Clams Casino stuffed with crispy pancette, roasted peppers and onions, $10.
Then I listened to our waiter and ordered the best Braciole I've had in decades. The order came with two huge Veal Bracciolatini, rolled and stuffed with asiago cheese, portobello mushroom and prosciutto finished in citrus garlic wine sauce with artichoke hearts, spinach and sun-dried tomatoes served over pappardelle pasta, $20, and we couldn't even finish half of this portion.
It was truly a remarkable and memorable dish.
Pat devoured her Herb-Rubbed Rack of Lamb pan-roasted and served au jus with butternut squash and asparagus, $26.
We certainly will return anytime we wend this way around diner time.
The clientele was mostly local, North Shore families. ZaZa's is obviously a favorite of Southern Italian food lovers, and the scene could easily be an out-take from an episode of "The Sopranos" with the only violence being done to one's waste-line.
The Globe loves ZaZa
In a recent review, the Boston Globe wrote, "Men camped out to watch football at the sleek bar, and pairs of women toasted with martinis. With its red interiors, menu of comfort food, and a drink list that reads like a novella, ZaZa is the kind of place where you can spend an entire night. It's fancy enough for dressy clothes, but you'll also be welcome in jeans. The young couple dining next to us had a Dunkin' Donuts cup on the table, and no one seemed to judge.
"The grilled sweet Italian sausage ($16), prepared with Romano cheese and curly pasta known as strozzapreti, was two meals in one, and didn't skimp on the meat. The sliced sausage was tasty when mixed with the bits of leek in the sauce.
"Once the entrees arrived, we decided this place more than justifies its prices, not only in quality, but in quantity."
- Boston Globe.
"The grilled yellow fin tuna ($22) is a porterhouse-sized slab of seared fish topped with strips of wasabi sauce and served with basil risotto. The restaurant's signature starter, the ZaZa salad ($10), is a mix of arugula drenched in teriyaki-flavored dressing. The greens are speckled with butternut squash, almonds, and cranberries."
Dinner entrées from $13, lunch from $8
The dinner menu also features many dishes not often found in your local bistro like Ziti a la Vodka which is pasta sautéed in a light plum tomato vodka cream sauce tossed with shrimp, $17, with chicken, $15.
Or try ZaZa's Jumbo Cheese Ravioli in a fresh plum tomato sauce, $12 or the Ziti Rustica made of crispy pancetta and mushrooms in a light cream sauce, $13. Add to this Pappardelle a la Bolognese made of ground pork and beef in pomodoro sauce, $16, or Rigatoni a la Norma sautéed roasted eggplant and mushrooms in a light plum tomato sauce topped with shaved ricotta salata cheese, $15 and Gemelli and Sweet Italian Sausage with leeks, sun-dried tomatoes and black olives in a garlic-oil pecorino romano cheese sauce with topped with shaved parmesan, $16 and you can see how inexpensive ZaZa can be.
And the prices for lunch are less, most entress are $9 and the ZaZa adds pizzas to the mix.
"Return to Me" The Return of Dinner and a Show at ZaZa with Rich DiMare
Rich MiMare first Thursday every month.
Remember when honor, respect and chivalry meant something? Remember when a wink, a handshake and the slip of a twenty got you a romantic table in the front?
This spring return to "Boston's Old Vegas Strip"- (Route 1N) and fall into a different era beginning March 4 when Za Za presents "Return to Me," the return of dinner and a show featuring Rat Pack standards sung by Rich Dimare of Kiss 108 FM.
The first Thursday of every month Za Za Restaurant will be transcending time with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Bing Crosby. Bring a date or a friend and choose from their fantastic menu and extensive cocktail list. Settle into a dimly lit table and allow the music to take you to a totally different era. For more about Rich DiMare visit his website.
Reservations are recommended for dinner by calling Za Za at (781) 233-6815.
ZaZa Restaurant & Nitery.
It's just north of the Lynn Fells Parkway a mile before the entrance to I-95 and Route 128 at 114 Broadway (Route 1 North) Saugus, MA 01906, (781) 233-6815.
Hours: Mon. - Wed. 11:30am to 10pm. Thur. - Sat. 11:30am to 2am. Sunday 1pm to 9pm