Having come across many mixed reviews, my expectations were tempered as I stepped inside Z Cucina. A good time was definitely on board regardless of the food, as two of my favorite dining companions joined me on a breezy autumn evening.
We were immediately greeted after being led to our table and were quickly overwhelmed with a throng of words, which we soon learned were the daily specials. The Z Tavola tasting platter ($19) allowed us to sample the restaurant's wide spectrum of appetizers. The three mainstays included the Calamari Fritti, Parmigiano Risotto Fritters, and the House-Made Mozzarella. The three chef's creations of the night happened to be a Mediterranean sardine concoction, pumpkin spread with baguette, and a fruit medley. The calamari fritti particularly stood out as the squid had been lightly battered, flash fried, and topped with a memorable shallot sauce. The parmagiano risotto fritters were equally delectable, with the distinct flavor of mozzarella contrasting nicely with the piquant tomato sauce. The fruit medley would have to be my least favorite of the six, since it was a mixture of raisins and cranberries. Paired with the pumpkin dip, however, made for a refreshing appetizer.
The bread basket was then presented -- which I found to be slightly odd. The warm herb and olive oil infused bread was tasty enough as is that the olive oil balsamic dipping sauce proved to be highly unnecessary.
Hesitating between the Orange Sage Veal Loin ($22) and the daily special of Confit Risotto, the former trumped in a heartbeat when I saw Yukon Gold Potatoes as the accompanying starch. The veal loin itself was well-seasoned and spiced. A few squirts of lemon juice would have made it more enjoyable, however. The green beans and the aforementioned potatoes were slightly undercooked making them the crunchy components to my main. Whether that was intentional on the chef's part is beyond me, but I do like my potatoes a little softer (i.e. more cooked) in order to bring out the natural buttery taste.
As a closure to dinner, the Butterscotch Panna Cotta ($6) was a no-brainer. It was Z Cucina's signature dessert, and I could see why. A chocolate coated biscotti was served alongside a martini glass filled with layers of rich, gooey caramel and gelatinous textured cream of milk and sugar. Absolutely divine.
There were certainly a few hits and misses throughout the night. Both of my friends raved about the juicy scallops and the risotto, while both unanimously agreed on the uninspiring dessert libations, particularly the Z Caffe.
Our debonair server remained attentive and helpful during dinner -- being quick to answer any questions we had in regards to the ingredients and such. The restaurant itself was strewn with white fabrics, which transformed a rather plain looking space into a more elegant and more inviting area. No diner can feel out of place dressed down in jeans or decked out to the nines in evening dresses. And given the broad range of prices and menu choices (that vary by season), I must say that this is an excellent date spot!
1368 Grandview Ave
Columbus, OH 43212
(614) 486 - 9200