Zia’s Italian Cooking

A perfect backdrop for lasting memories

On a recent visit to Zia’s Italian Cooking, a dad and his 6-year-old daughter clinked stemmed water glasses as if filled with wine. “Salute!” they cheered.

Nearby, a family of older siblings and their parents chatted eating a large sampling of Zia’s appetizers including several crispy crusted pizzas. The activity at the restaurant continued at a table of 20 where a birthday celebration was gathering.

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Staffed for service

Zia’s, located on the Docks at International Park, serves as the perfect backdrop for lasting memories, which begins with a knowledgeable staff who set the tone for a night of dining.

Our waiter, Benjamin, helped us navigate the dense menu, explaining every dish’s flavor profile and how best to pair entrée with palette. Our party of four shared Mozzarella Fritti, beautifully nestled in a sea of creamy red sauce. The coating on the fried rounds of cheese was crisp and light, providing an audible crunch. Next, the salads were topped with homemade dressings— Caesar, ranch, and balsamic vinaigrette.

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Hearty classics

For entrees, we selected Bistecca al Funghi, Fettuccine Alfredo, Lasagna Bianco and Pollo al Marsala. A side of pasta was easily offered as a subsitution for the evening’s vegetable. Entrée portions were sizable, plated beautifully on the dish. My sirloin steak was grilled to perfection, medium rare, and piled high atop a mound of Zia’s signature garlic mashed potatoes, surrounded by a ring of perfectly cooked broccoli.

The sirloin entree stood well over two inches tall, topped with zesty gorgonzola, and stacked on top of a large portobello mushroom lying beneath the steak concealing a stash of caramelized onions. Each bite left me wanting more of the woodiness of the mushroom, the tang of the cheese and the tenderness of the steak.

The lasagna was a show-stopper, filled with flavorful Italian sausage, fresh spinach, grilled zucchini, mushrooms, and Italian cheeses. For those averse to vegetables, the al dente noodles, sauce, and cheeses disguised them nicely. Each mouthful popped with flavor – gooey, rich cheese, sweet fennel-laced sausage and rich red marina.

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Sweet finish

We finished our meals with two desserts: a light, citrus-flavored cheesecake topped with a bright red raspberry drizzle and the quintessential Italian dessert— tiramisu— comprised of creamy, sweet lady fingers delicately soaked in coffee liqueur and topped with a divine mascarpone topping.

We found ourselves talking about visiting Zia’s again— and next time, starting our meals with dessert!

Although there are ample seating choices, it’s advisable to place a reservation before heading over to this popular, family-driven restaurant.

Hours are: 5-9pm Monday through Thursday; Friday 5-10pm; Saturday 4-10pm and Sunday 4-9pm. Visit ziasrestaurant.com.

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