by Max Brantley
Za Za, the pizza-salad-gelato creation of Scott McGehee and John Beachboard on the back side of the Heights Theater shops, is an early smash -- and a bit of a victim of its somewhat hard-to-cipher self-serve setup. But there's not a thing lacking in food quality and they are humping to refine the system to make it more user friendly in the face of opening days hordes. (John said they expected to sell six gallons of home-made gelato a day; it's more like 24.)
We went for a third visit Saturday to try one of the entrees -- a Tuscan-style 38-ounce ribeye. Alas, the wood-fired pizza oven is too slammed with pizzas nonstop to follow through for now on the idea to cook the steaks on cast-iron pans in the oven. So no steak.
But they are serving shrimp Za Za ($32), a lip-smacking pile of jumbo shrimp, cooked sweet and tender, with fresh lemon, olive oil, garlic and salt, heaped on a bed of pizza crust strips, fresh basil and cherry tomatoes, which soak up all the wonderful juice. There were maybe 30 shrimp in our order. Some folks next to us -- party of four -- split the shrimp and two pizzas and that's a mighty fine meal for a reasonable price for quality this high.
Then you finish with gelato, a selection of which is shown below. Some day, they won't be sold out of chocolate-hazelnut. Ours: chocolate and coconut. Molto bene.