Last week, I was invited to Zolas to try their new Feast menu. I was among a group of women suggested to Gina by Catherine Landry (creator of the Ladies Who Lunch network in Ottawa). The feast menu is a new option geared to family-style dining. Zolas has had a long-standing spot in the Ottawa restaurant industry. They are well-known for supporting the local community with donations or through their co-op program and also for their involvement in fundraisers like Taste for Life for the past 26 years. Owner, Chef Tony, and his sister, Gina Vacchio, who manages the restaurant, have been there since the beginning, 29 years ago. This family affair also includes staff that have become like family to them, like Suzanne (a server) who has been there for 21 years. At the heart of the family is their mom. The launch night of the Feast menu was also a celebration in honour of Momma V’s 85th birthday. Although, Mama V is not involved in the day-to-day operation of the restaurant she does have her own unique way of contributing, including providing freshly grown items from her garden. Chef Tony creates traditional Italian recipes but is also always on the lookout for new inspiration and menu ideas. He often gets inspired while travelling. Zolas is known for making many of the items from scratch on premises like their fresh made pasta, sauces, and even their famous rolls.
As a group we were seated in front of the exhibition-style kitchen and we were asked to choose items from the feast menu that we wanted to try. We went with the 10-12 people option that included choosing 6 appetizers, 6 pastas, and 3 pizzas. We chose the following:
While we waited for our appetizers the famous rolls arrived. They were soft and fresh and it was really hard not to eat more than one. I ate only half with the intention of using the rest for dipping into one of the pasta sauces.
All of our appetizers arrived and quickly filled up the entire table. Both the artisan and panzanella salad were fresh, tasty and colourful. The panzanella had a great dijon vinaigrette. The meatballs were amazing! An order comes with 4 meatballs made from a mixture of chicken, veal, and beef. They were perfect in size and the hint of anise was a nice touch. I probably could have finished the entire order myself. The other highlight that everyone agreed on was the sauce for the mussels. Remember that half roll that I was holding on to…? . The creamy garlicy sauce was perfect and left me wanting more.
Next came the pastas and pizzas…
Top left: Linguini prosciutto and mushroom (Prosciutto and mushrooms in a parmesan and white wine cream sauce) Top right: Home made italian sausage (penne, pan seared homemade fennel sausage in a spicy tomato sauce) Bottom left: Porchetta & peas (linguini, slow roasted pork, sweet peas in a garlic cream sauce). Bottom right: Linguni sundried tomato and mushroom (Sundried tomatoes and mushrooms in a Napolitana and cream sauce)
For the pastas, there was a general consensus at the table that the Linguini prosciutto and mushrooms in a parmesan white wine cream sauce was the one that stood out most. It was a perfect combination of ingredients for me. My choice for favourite pizza was the Artichoke Asiago. I really like my cheese so this one was great to me. There was a mixture of asiago fondue and then topped with mozzarella. I liked that it was different from the traditional take on pizza with meat and red sauce. As I mentioned before, we were also invited to celebrate Momma Vi’s 85th birthday. This night was a surprise to her. She didn’t know what was going on until I showed up for dinner. I was the first one there and bought in a small gift from the Foodie Girlz, so Gina needed to fess up and explain why I had this gift. She is the sweetest woman ever, unknowingly, I bought her favourite flower, orchids and she was so appreciative of the gift. Shortly after dinner, Chef Tony brought out a (huge) cake and we all sang Happy Birthday to Momma V. She was overhelmed by all of this and she was almost brought to tears. It was a very special moment and I’m so glad that I was invited to share it with her. The cake was the perfect finish to our great meal. It was a lemon cake, served HOT! Yes, hot.
The feast menu is a great addition to the Zolas menu. It’s a perfect choice for families or a group of friends that want to share a few items rather than ordering an entire entrée on their own. Why only have one choice when you can have many! Thank you to Catherine for putting forward our name for the guest list. Big thanks also to Chef Tony, Gina, Momma V and the staff at Zolas for a job well done. We happy that Momma V had a very Happy 85th Birthday and we are so happy we got to celebrate it with her.
MORE ABOUT THE RESTAURANT
Name: Zolas Restaurant
Address: 2194 Robertson Road
Reservations: Yes (Online or Call)
Parking: Parking lot