I've never dined at ZaZaZa Pizza before. Neither the east-end store at 143 Putnam nor at 915 Bank Street, just north of Lansdowne. Today was my day to lunch in the Glebe.
I have my 'want to try someday' resto list and it seems new places are springing up faster here in Ottawa than I can stroke them off. ZaZaZa is one of those destinations that has been lingering on this list since they opened.
Whatever one might think of the Ottawa Magazine's WinterBites food festival on now until January 26th, a primary premise of the offering is to have us consider dining out at a place we have never been to before. I dare say, we ended up at lunch today because of WinterBites. With 28 restaurants to choose from, location, hours and the desired experience quickly whittled our list down. I also want to put in a plug for having the three-course prix fixe menus available on-line. It made program participation a breeze.
The $20 WinterBites lunch option came with a small fresh salad, gourmet pizza and fresh gelato. They also had a $25 lunch for a bigger appetite than mine.
I fuss a lot over my lemonade. I want it tart, lemony and with no extra frilly flavours. Usually I give this drink choice a pass, having had too many too sweet, too artificial and over-concocted attempts at 'refreshing'. When our server described their house version, I took a chance on a good porch swing drink. For $3.78 they certainly gave me lots of pucker. Thanks to ZaZaZa for the great start.
I chose the Feta Crunch Salad with tomato, cucumbers, peppers, red onions, Kalamata olives, Feta cheese with a lemon-lulu dressing. BTW, I have no idea what a lemon-lulu dressing might be but it tasted fine, nonetheless. It is normally $5.69.
The vast selection of gourmet pizzas here can be mind-boggling. But the catchy titles draw you in and I knew that if I could pick any two that suited my tastes, our helpful server would be more than happy to break the tie. I wavered between the Crazy Horse and the French Kiss. Our server directed me to the former. The Crazy Horse comes with pesto oil, spinach, mozzarella, mushrooms, chicken, caramelized onions, pine nuts and goat cheese. It normally sells for $16.97.
The pizza showed up unexpectedly fast. In this case, it turned out to be a good thing. I pushed my barely touched salad aside, declaring it a leftover for dinner tonight. I was anxious to dig into the pizza before it got cold. This is probably my only quibble of the meal, the pizza was not piping hot. My dining partner said the same of hers. It was our choice to push on as the pies were probably better off. I opted for a drizzle of their chili oil and was glad that I did. My pesto oil was too mild to be noticed. The even flavours of the spinach, chicken and mushrooms did well by the boost. Keeping dessert in mind, I left a few slices for home.
The fresh gelato was either raspberry or mango. 3 balls. Your choice. Normally $3.96.
When I saw 'fresh' on the menu, I had to ask if it was Ottawa local. I know owner Ion Aimers had spoken well of Truffle Treasurers' founder, Lara Vaarré, who recently passed. The server said it was a commercial brand. Perhaps there is an opportunity to be considered. I have experienced some very respectable gelaterias in town.
So how did my WinterBites lunch wrap up?
One of my on-going dilemmas with programs like WinterBites is that a three-course prix fixe is not what I typically do. Since I rarely order dessert, it takes away from the concept of 'saving' and 'deal'.
So here is the math on today's lunch. On a regular day, those 3 courses would tally to $26.62. A WinterBites savings of $6.62 and tax. I may have typically only ordered the salad and pizza for $22.66. With leftovers of salad and pie, it was still a big WinterBites winner.
915 Bank Street
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