Ziano's Italian Eatery
Since I moved to Fort Wayne over 13 years ago, Casa’s has consistently been the answer to my question, “Where do you go for good Italian food?”
Don’t get me wrong. I like Casa’s, especially their chocolate cake served with a decadent raspberry sauce, but I recently visited Ziano’s, and now I wonder why this unsung hero doesn’t get more credit. While it hasn’t been around as long (the first location opened in 2009) it definitely deserves some love.
I’ve visited the Covington Road location only (there are two other locations, on Dupont and on Maysville). The restaurant’s slogan says it all: “No frills Italian bistro in a strip mall.” I’ve mentioned before that I don’t typically put a lot of stock in restaurants located in strip malls, but Ziano’s breaks the mold. While the ambiance leaves something to be desired (you really can’t help but notice you’re in a strip mall) the food more than makes up for it.
First, let’s talk about the breadsticks. I don’t know what kind of voodoo magic they sprinkle those with, but dang are they good – like eat-the-whole-plate good. I’d be completely satisfied with an entire meal of nothing but their breadsticks. They are handmade daily and brushed with garlic and Parmesan, but that description really doesn’t do them justice. They are simultaneously sweet and savory, a delicious combination, and the texture is soft and fluffy. Trust me on this one. Best breadsticks in town. No contest. And you can get them with a variety of dipping sauces, including cheese, garlic butter and marinara sauce.
Of course, no Italian restaurant would be complete without an Italian House salad. Ziano’s version comes in two sizes (small for $1.99 and large for $5.99) and is made with a blend of spring mix, iceberg and romaine lettuces, tossed with mozzarella, shredded Parmesan, green onion, tomato, sweet peppers and hand-made Italian dressing. The small is the perfect size for a before-dinner salad. The large is big enough for a meal.
If you make it past the breadsticks and salad, I recommend these main dishes.
Chicken Piccata ($12.99): Grilled chicken breast with lemon and capers, reduced in a white wine sauce and served with linguine. This dish is so simple, but the flavors are executed beautifully. It pulls off the perfect ratio of lemon to capers, both of which can be overpowering if not done right. The chicken is thin and juicy. I have dreams about this dish. In fact, I had to stop while writing this article to go get it.
Chicken or Shrimp Romano ($12.99): Linguine pasta tossed with your choice of meat, crushed tomatoes and Ziano’s own creamy Romano sauce, which is a blend of their classic red sauce and alfredo sauce. I always choose chicken. This is a comforting dish. The sauce is smooth and savory, with a hint of sweetness. I especially like the chunks of tomato present in this dish.
The Pesto Pizza (10 inch, $7.99; 14 inch, $13.99): Homemade basil pesto sauce and fresh sliced tomato, covered with mozzarella. The 10-inch is a nice size for one. Go with the 14 inch if you want to share. I am not a big fan of pizzas made with a lot of marinara sauce, so I especially like that this one is made with the basil pesto sauce. The crust is thick, but not too thick, and has the same sweet and savory flavor combo as the breadsticks. It could use a tad more seasoning in the pesto sauce, but overall, I give this pizza two thumbs up.
Because of its casual atmosphere and modest pricing, Ziano’s is a great place for a family dinner with the kiddos, but can also serve as a place for a date night with your sweetie, as well.
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41st SOCA Student Exhibition — Works from students currently enrolled at USF’s School of Creative Arts, daily thru April 30, Weatherhead Gallery, USF Rolland Art Center, University of Saint Francis, Fort Wayne, 399-7999
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