June 13, 2013
One of the newer establishments serving dinner downtown (as well as breakfast and lunch) is Zolia Bistro Enoteca, an Italian bistro and wine bar on the ground floor of II City Plaza.
Looking out on the lovely walled walkway of the high-rise building, Zolia’s contemporary décor with warm-colored walls, soft music, appealing art and lots of natural light is very inviting and must be a welcome new neighbor to those who work nearby.
We started our dinner with one of the boards, a sampler of Italian meats and cheeses called the executive ($17). We watched through the open kitchen as our meats were sliced and we especially liked the taste of the spicy capicola and the salami.
Served with garlic-grilled crostini, olives and peperonata (a multi-colored fried peppers dish), this would be a perfect snack with drinks and friends after work.
Whether you’re there for antipasto or a meal you’ll have lots to choose from, and the beauty of the tapas, or small plate menu offered along with salads for dinner, is not having to narrow your selection down to one.
The Abita shrimp tapas ($6) featured medium-size shrimp, cooked in a buttery, slightly spicy brown sauce, served atop grits cakes cut into triangles surrounded by the scrumptious sauce. Our waiter said this was one of his favorites, and we could see why.
We also really liked another favorite, the petite burger ($4) a juicy well-seasoned, slider-size patty with smoky gouda and wonderful pickled onions, all served on brioche.
Hummus enthusiasts will really enjoy the cannellini hummus ($6), pureed white beans with tons of garlic served with a generous amount of toasted crostini for sharing with the rest of the table.
The carpacio ($8) featured thinly shaved raw beef tenderloin artfully arranged like petals on a flower around a tomato caper relish mixed with arugula and parmesan cheese and finished with a lemon infused olive oil. Though good, the lemony oil overtook the flavor of the dish and was really all you could taste.
The choices we tried under the crostini section of the menu were delicious.
Our favorite was the warm truffle crimini ($6), two toasted triangular slices of bread topped with sauteed mushrooms, garlic, honey goat cheese and white truffle oil. Each bite was heavenly.
The Filetto cipolla ($7) was a seared beef tenderloin topped toast with boursin cheese and carmelized onions which was also quite good.
We also tried the tuna tartar plate ($9) and while our guest did not enjoy the texture of the fish he was glad he tried something he’d never had before.
Unfortunately, the tartar and the carpaccio were served on giant plates, really making the small round table feel cramped and uncomfortable. If the idea is for your guests to order more than one selection, all the plates sizes should be kept in mind. Our table for four was really more suited to two.
The desserts were mostly served on the very large platters as well but by then all our small plates were cleared and things weren’t as overcrowded.
We tried all four of their offerings and enjoyed each.
A late arrival to the table, the New-York style cheesecake ($6) serving was round and topped with a sweet strawberry puree. It was good, but the blueberry bread pudding ($6) was even better.
Moist and hot the pudding was full of fresh blueberries and white chocolate and topped with a sweet lemon sauce. It melted in your mouth.
The traditional tiramisu ($6) was perfect and we enjoyed its chocolaty goodness.
Another chocolate offering we tried was the cocoa lavazza ($6), a bittersweet chocolate espresso cake also served warm. That with a cappuccino ($2.50) was a wonderful topper to a tasty meal.
Viewing the soft summer rain falling on the walkway outside while sitting inside the cozy restaurant enjoying dessert after a fine meal was delightful.