Clutching my 'deal' voucher I headed over to Za-Za's in Richmond for my 'all you can eat' pancakes with a friend. You never really know what you're going to get with a voucher. The whole point of putting out a voucher for the cafe or restaurant is to either step up business because they're out of the way from main stream traffic; because they're new and want to introduce themselves; or simply to bring in more business and customers. The 'voucher' phenomenon has taken over and I have no doubt we've all picked up a few bargains. The eateries are always a mixed bag of surprises. As Forrest Gump would say, 'life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get'. I've been to some dinghy restaurants, some sterile and lacking atmosphere, some out in woop woops (out in the sticks i.e. far away) looking like office blocks and then there are the surprises where it's quite nice and even the food is great. Za-Za's was one of those nice little surprises.
That's a pasta bar at the top right corner of the picture
I was going to try out all the pancakes since it was an all you can eat deal, but alas, after 2, I was chocka full. My friend managed to down quite a few. They were delicious and it wasn't until I arrived at the venue did I discover that Za-Za's is not just a dessert bar but a full blown restaurant as well. I met Dario who manages the place and was our chef of the day. I would have loved to have found out more but he was flat out busy. That was back in August and Za-Za's was but a year and a half old. Behind us on the shelves were groceries from Italy that were begging to be purchased. I recognised Johnny Di Francesco's (400 Gradi) Pizza Napoletana flour on the shelf. The pasta compared to (or rather, how could you compare) supermarkets where you can get a packet for under $3, were $8 a packet. However, I got beautiful black squid ink pasta and I can tell you it was a joy to eat at home. Al-dente and delicious! I also picked up their pesto and pate and same again. One could taste the quality of the product. I've got to get back there again as I'm starting to crave the squid ink pasta. To get a closer look at the groceries in this article, click on larger image and when it opens in a new page, magnify it again for a better view.
Dario on the left and a gorgeous young waitress who took good care of us
At the pasta bar you have the power. Choose your own pasta and sauce and come up with your own creative mix. You have pasta choices like roast pumpkin and parmesan ravioli; prawn and lobster ravioli; duck, orange zest and sweet onion tortellini; pumpkin gnocchi; linguine; and pappardelle. Just the names of the pasta stirs up some excitement in me that says this is more than just an ordinary feast. For the sauces you can pick from carbonara (speck, grana, black pepper); smoked salmon, broccoli and almond, prawns, vongole, mussels and pachino; pesto, pachino and olives; organic pork sausage ragout; mushroom, ricotta, spinach and parmesan; peas, ongole and pomodorini and ZaZa's (prosciutto, chilli, olives, pachino). Is your mouth watering yet? CLICK HERE to check out their menus online.
For our homemade pancake selections we had combinations of nutella, berry compote and hazelnut sprinkle; caramelised banana and acacia honey; pistacchio ricotta, snow sugar and organic honey; mascarpone, mostocotto and candied walnut; coffee flavoured cream and amaretti crumble and vanilla sugar, butter and honey; and you can add a scoop of vanilla bean ice-cream to the mix for an extra $3. Za-Za's run a Flirting with Food evening on the last Wednesday of each month at 6.30pm for $15 a head and it comes with a drink. On Tuesdays and Saturdays they have a Pizza Revolution dinner for $30 a head. Give them a call to find out more as there is nothing on their Facebook page or website that expands on this.
They have been written up on Urbanspoon as one of the places to get a great nutella dish. The Herald Sun has counted them in as one of the top 25 new Italian restaurants in Melbourne and Dario has appeared with Justine Schofield on Everyday Gourmet (episode 58). People are taking notice and Za-Za's is not shy about putting themselves out there entering pizza championships. They open for breakfast and lunch only on Sunday and Monday, but from Tuesday to Saturday they are open for dinner as well. You will find them at 10/53 Coppin street, Richmond (03) 9421 6221.