Monday, November 16, 2009

ZuZu… at the "tapa" my Napa dining list!

I just couldn't stay away. Only two weeks later, I came up with an excuse to come back to Napa and to Zuzu! I visited Napa again this past weekend with my bf for the Merlove signing at V. Sattui, and on to Healdsburg for a tasting at Murphy-Goode. We ended up heading back to Napa for dinner, and I couldn't help but think of ZuZu as a possibility.

I was first introduced to ZuZu on the downtown Napa media tour progressive dinner. There was so much I enjoyed about the restaurant--not just delicious food, but the interior, its ambiance, and the service--that I wanted to return. We were looking for a dinner spot with smaller portions, casual to semi formal dress, and close to our hotel, the Napa Valley Marriott. ZuZu fit the bill perfectly.

A little background information on ZuZu: The proprietor Mick Salyer and Chef Angela Tamura have developed uniquely Californian versions of tapas as well as incorporating taste elements from Central and South America. The menu is tailored with fresh, seasonal, locally grown, organic ingredients.

Wines from California, Spain, Italy, Portugal, South America and New Zealand are featured on a list compiled by Mick Salyer that are uniquely suited for tapas. You can take a peek at their wine list here.

Many of the wines are available under $30 per bottle, and over 25 offered by the glass. There is also a house-made sangria available.

The interior of the restaurant is a beautiful blend of local and international art and décor, including a weathered Mexican tin ceiling, exposed aged wood beams, faded colonial floor tiles, and a recycled pine wood bar.

On my first visit to ZuZu, we were seated in the upstairs loft at a big family table overlooking the Napa River and Veterans' Park. Its great table for a group of friends or loved ones to gather around. I suggest ordering the small plates family style, so that you can try several different things and order more of what you really like.

The owner served our group a wine called Paco & Lola Albariño. I was familiar with this wine because I had tried it (exactly the same vintage and label) two months ago at an event in Sacramento. Albariño is a white varietal primarily from Northwestern Spain. Paco & Lola is from the Rias Baixas region.

It went very well with over half of the small plates we tried, but it even went with the spicier meats later in the meal. Impressive.

Some of those small plates included the following:

The Boquerones: White Anchovies, Hard Boiled Egg & Remoulade on Grilled Bread. At first, I was turned off by the anchovy part of this dish, but I tried it anyway, and it's one of the best things on the menu! It's loaded with texture and flavor. Don't be afraid or turned off by anchovies. They are in a lot of common sauces (Worcestershire for one) and dressings.

The Bacalao: Salt Cod drizzled with White Truffle Oil, Garlic Crostini
This was my favorite dish of the evening. Partly because of its simplicity, and because the chef does not overdo it with the truffle oil. It was one of the best pieces of fish I have ever had, and certainly the best cod.

Shaved Artichoke-Portobello Salad; Lemon-Truffle Vinaigrette & Sao Jorge
Sao Jorge is where it's at. The best thing in the salad, ohh man!!

These are the Albondigas: Niman Ranch Pork Meatballs with PX wine and a Piquillo Pepper Sauce. We were also offered a red wine at this point in the meal. Apologies for not getting a shot of the label or noting the wine.

I snapped the above as we were waiting to be seated last Saturday. It was quite the hot spot.

Here are the dishes I shared with my bf (caliente):

The Niman Ranch Grass-Fed Flat Iron Steak with Roasted Chimichurri
I loved how the steak was cooked and sliced!

Lamb Burger with Red Quinoa and Goat Yogurt Tzatziki. I was going to go with the salt cod, but I wanted to try something new. I really enjoyed the lamb... it was subtle as opposed to the "in your face" game-ish kind of flavor lamb sometimes has). The tzatziki was an awesome addition. I think I favored the bf's steak, though, and I am sitting here still craving that salt cod. Oh well, there's always next time. I will also be tasting the Paella on the menu! :)

We also tried the spicy almonds (fantastic!) and nibbled on the bread that is served with a little plate of olive oil (no balsamic available, I am told). I think the no balsamic is my only complaint, so I can always just bring my own.

ZuZu is open for Lunch and dinner 11:30am-10pm, Monday-Thursday, and 11:30am-11pm Friday. Dinner 4pm-11pm on Saturday & 4pm-10pm on Sunday. They are located on Main Street between 2nd and 3rd Streets in downtown Napa.

For updates on the menu and the restaurant itself, you can visit their page on Facebook here.

No comments: