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First Bite: Za Za Trattoria

Za Za BLT Pizza I have been silent about Za Za Trattoria for too long. It was selfish, really, to have sat on such a fabulous new restaurant, but you’ve got to understand how I might want to keep those bready bits of pizza and fabulous BYO brunches to myself for a little while? Yes? No? Well, here we go anyway.

I lost count of how many time I’ve eaten at the trattoria in the last five or six weeks, but let’s suffice it to say that I have been thrilled with everything they’ve served so far. From their focaccia-like pizzas to, surprisingly enough, their grits (which are the best I’ve had: neither too cheesy nor greasy, with a true corn taste and milky, smooth texture), Brian, Geoff, and Braxton present high quality products simply. The sausage cornbread, the salads, especially the caponata and peach/arugula. As they are both Chez Fon Fon alums, Frank Stitt should be proud of their elegant and economical approach to local food.

Their daytime service is strong, as evidenced by formidable lines at peak times, but the dishes really shine at supper and Sunday brunch. I have never sat around a table of food lovers and heard such uniform praise (most typically in ecstatic moans, smiles, and pointing). Surrounded by an eggplant-based caponata salad, sausage cornbread, grits, frittatas and breakfast pizzas, fresh fruit, and prosecco (which we were lucky enough to have on hand), it was an unparalleled meal.

Tips: Get to the Za as early as you can at mealtimes to make sure you can get exactly what you want (and to avoid long but swift-moving line); Order a “local” latte (made with Higher Ground espresso and Wright’s Dairy milk); BYO wine and beer while you can – that feature will likely end when their beer/wine license comes through.

AL.com’s Bob Carlton wrote a great post on Za Za a few weeks ago. Read it.

Za Za Trattoria [map]
207 20 St
Birmingham, AL 35203

Dan is the producer of ‘Ham Sandwich. P.S. He loves Za Za’s macaroni and cheese. Those massive hunks of pancetta aren’t there for show, folks. Read about his cooking adventures as Skip on The Gourmetro and learn about his work on aisle-9.net.

Za Za Breakfast Pizza and Berry Pizza Za Za Peach and Arugula Salad Za Za Pizza Trio Za Za Sausage and Olive Pizza Za Za BLT Pizza Za Za Dried Cherry: Rosemary Scone Za Za Cappuccino Za Za Interior Za Za Sausage Cornbread Za Za Frittata Brunch


  1. kristen says:

    Hey Dan: I just had ZaZa’s for lunch on Friday, and I loved it! We all had the 2 pieces / salad special. Good idea about going early: I think we avoided the lunch rush, but it was definitely crowded. I can’t wait to try breakfast / brunch.

  2. Dan says:

    That brunch is unparalleled; glad you like the restaurant. Haven’t had a bad (or even so-so) meal yet!

  3. Lance says:

    Sigh, another cute, little spot in Birmingham and we’re stuck here in Atlanta. Keep it up Dan and we’ll have to pick up and move back to Birmingham. 🙂 I really miss the smaller, intimate feeling that Birmingham has compared to Atlanta.

    Regardless, if we pop over for a day or two, what new spots would you recommend for lovers of fine wine and great food?

  4. Dan says:

    Consider yourself lucky that you’re so close. You should certainly come back to bhm for a bacchanalian weekend.

    I’d recommend that you get back into town for Friday supper at Trattoria Zaza. Bring your favorite wine and revel in their fresh dishes (a tomato-based okra with gulf-shrimp pasta is frequently on the menu). Get up early Saturday morning for an Urban Standard espresso. Their lattes are fierce as well. Lunch at Saw’s BBQ in Edgewood or take a quick trip out to the Standard Bistro in the beautiful (though not underplanned) Mt. Laurel. They’ve got a good by-the-glass wine list. If you’re still in the mood for a very different type of Italian with an impressive wine selection, go to Bettola.

    If you missed Zaza’s supper, hit them up for brunch before heading back east.

  5. Lance says:

    Ok, the gauntlet has been thrown down. Now that it’s starting to get a bit cooler, damn the summers in AL are five degrees or more hotter than in Atlanta, the time to come back home more often is neigh. I’ll have to make sure to bring you a care package of my pineapple, basil, papaya, habanero sorbet I made and “quinelled” on top of my special gazpacho with some Georgia sweet grass dairy goat cheese and fresh chives from the garden.

    To be honest, if an end unit at the Seabord Yard townhomes popped up for sale I’d almost say we’d pull up stakes and move to B’ham. 🙂

    Hmmmm, favorite wine… To go with an okra/tomato based shrimp dish? I’m feeling a zinfandel big time with that or maybe a really good, though hard to find, primitivo, though Sobon does a really nice one for under 25 bucks.

    Thanks for the help with our gastro tour of Birmingham the next time we’re in town. It’s definitely appreciated.


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