Recently, we had dinner at Zeppoli. It opened in Collingswood about one year ago and I’ve only heard fabulous things about it. I’m almost embarrassed that it took us this long to visit.
Although all the food reviews were good – it was even nominated for a James Beard award – the one complaint from everyone was the noise level. It’s a small place that only seats about 30-40 people and it seems it can get pretty loud.
Regardless, I was excited to go. We were seated right away. When the waiter introduced himself, he also told us the other server’s names and that they’d all be serving us tonight. I loved that.
Don’t you hate when you go somewhere and there are a bunch of wait staff walking around but you’re stuck looking for your particular person…then you finally ask somebody for help but whatever you’re asking for “is not their job or their area”…I loved the idea of any of these three people could help us with anything. So nice!
He also told us they are a Sicilian food focused place and they are really into it, so if we had any questions to let him know. I liked that too…I hate feeling stupid when I don’t know what something is and have to ask.
We decided to do a little sharing so we ordered two appetizers and three small pasta portions. Then they brought us the bread.
Okay, let’s everyone just pause for a moment…
This bread was…unbelievable! Don’t get me wrong, I love bread. Pretty much any kind of bread – I even love the generic giant loaf of white sandwich bread! But this, this, this was the mother of all breads. It was soft and warm and tasty – almost like air but if air tasted sweet and savory in just the right way. Amazing.
The also gave us olives in oil, which were really delicious too. They were just a bit lemony, which went so well with the olive flavor. And, they were the right consistency – so you can get the pit out easily without looking like a sourpuss or making a mess while you’re scraping the pit away from the olive with your teeth, trying not to use your hands. I think you get the picture.
The first appetizer was huge, Antipasto Siciliano. It’s a selection of meats, cheeses, and salads. Every piece of it had a unique flavor. You have to try it.
We also had the shrimp with cannellini beans – Gamberetti e Fagioli. The shrimp came with the heads on although we didn’t eat them or suck them or anything like that. Recently, I’ve become enamored with cannellini beans so I loved the dish.
Then the pastas. The first out was Rigatoni alla Disgraziata. This was so yummy. It’s rigatoni with eggplant. I don’t love eggplant so gave all the eggplant pieces to my husband. It doesn’t matter though – I would order this dish again and again. The flavor is so good you can just bypass the eggplant or if you like it, eat that too – even better.
The second pasta Spaghetti Vongole better known as spaghetti and clams. Boring, right? Wrong! The clams were so tiny and tender and the pasta cooked perfectly in the perfect oil/butter sauce but not too oily – just gorgeous.
The final pasta was Tagliatelli al Limone. We upped the ante and got the Sicilian Bottarga, which is tuna roe. This was the only downfall. If you love lemon, get it. If you only like lemon, stay away. It was really lemony. Really. Also, the roe didn’t do much to add to it. The lemon just overpowered everything on the plate. This one was disappointing.
We skipped dessert. I know, I’m sorry but it’s the risk of taking a three year-old to a nice place. They can only give so much and Leah had given all she had before the pasta even arrived so we had to check out early.
Also, the noise wasn’t bad. We went pretty early in the evening and on a Thursday so it may get more rowdy later on a weekend night but we were fine.
Here’s what I loved:
- the service
- the bread
Here’s what I liked:
- the food
- the atmosphere
Here’s what I didn’t love:
- the lemon pasta
Have you been to Zeppoli?
What did you think?
What’s your favorite James Beard restaurant?
Side Note: Photo credit goes to NJ Monthly, Philly.com, and City Paper.
Come on, you know I couldn’t take photos that good!