Favorite Restaurant: Sorella di Zza’s
Reviewed Sorella di Zza’s: Monday, March 19, 2012
This restaurant is always really good with friendly folks that make me feel right at home! There’s a good “neighborhood” energy at Sorella di Zza’s.
I usually eat in the wine bar side, not in the main dining room which is more family oriented. My bartender/server, Chris is always very helpful with wine selections, so I usually decide on my order and let him choose the wine. This time we selected the Spaghettini, a dish that I’ve had before and one that they’re famous for and the Lasagna of the Day. The lasagna was a sausage lasagna and was also very delicious. Everything arrived quickly along with some of their great homemade bread. All the dishes came in huge portions and were very delicious!
On a last note, I’m very glad we got the Cavolo Nero or Tuscan Kale, as it was yummy! As always the service was great without any problems and made for an enjoyable evening!
Occupation: Auto Parts, Business Owner
Location: Redwood City
Favorite Restaurant: All Spice
Reviewed Sorella di Zza’s: Monday, March 5, 2012
I was really looking forward to trying the third restaurant; the first two were so enjoyable. The drive wasn’t bad, even though I’m not too familiar with Oakland. And the area looked very nice, on the lake; we even parked a few blocks away and walked, as the evening was so nice.
The restaurant was very plain, we were greeted by a staff person and told to sit wherever we would like and easily found a table for two that was vacant as the restaurant was very nearly empty. Soon our waitress came by and asked if we were the couple who had the 7:00 reservation, and we assured her we were and that seemed to please her.
The wine list was fairly extensive, and I had no problem finding two wines that we could enjoy and we ordered our appetizers and our entree’s. The selection I chose was the Lasagna as I usually rate an Italian restaurant by the quality of the Lasagna, but unfortunately they were out of that. I looked for something else and settled on the 1/2 chicken at the server’s recommendation. We were served our wine along with some very tasty bread and dip and settled in. The noise level was certainly low, and we enjoyed sitting and talking. Unfortunately a couple with two young children came in at this point, and one of the children was very distressed and raised the noise level and everyone else raised theirs to be heard and consequently what started out as a relaxing dinner soon became somewhat less so.
It appeared to be quite a while that we waited, and finally the stuffed mushrooms and salad came to the table. Unfortunately the sautéed mushrooms looked very much like button mushrooms from a can and quickly heated, and the salad was supposed to be arugula, blood oranges, dates, pecans, and Parmesan with an olive oil dressing. It was mainly Arugula and very little of anything else. We just started on our appetizers, and the main courses showed up. There definitely was a timing issue, as I noticed the same thing happened at several other tables.
The presentation of all the dishes was extremely plain. My wife’s salmon was a very nice piece of fish with a tasty Mango salsa topping, but it was laid across a mound of mashed potatoes that made the whole thing look unappetizing. My chicken was prepared under a brick (as per the menu) so I really can’t complain that it looked like it was. It was served next to a mound of polenta and really didn’t excite me or encourage me to bite in. It was tender but tasted bland and oily, and I didn’t eat very much. I know my mother used to tell me that if I didn’t have something nice to say I shouldn’t say anything, but under the circumstances, even though it pains me, I feel duty bound to speak up.
I finished off with a cup of coffee, and I will say the coffee was made fresh and really tasted very nice. Everyone is entitled to an off day and I hope that I just caught Zza’s on one of those, but I don’t think I’ll go back to try again. I paid less here than at either of the other two restaurants, but I felt this was the least value for the money.
Occupation: PR Account Executive
Favorite Restaurant: Hillstone
Reviewed Sorella di Zza’s: Sunday, March 11, 2012
For a Sunday night, I expected this place to be empty and slow. When we got there, my sister and I were one of three tables, but within a half hour the restaurant was full. A promising sign.
Having grown up on the Peninsula and lived in San Francisco, we aren’t very experienced with anywhere in the East Bay, so we were wary of heading into Oakland. But we were both delighted to learn that the restaurant was right off the freeway and right across from the beautiful Lake Merritt. We found parking very easily, just around the corner. And, when we were done, getting back on the freeway was a breeze (which it was not for our previous trek to Oakland…).
The space was open with little decoration. It felt almost cold upon arrival with unfinished cement floors, dark brown walls, brown tablecloths and napkins, no art on the walls, and only one window at the front of the restaurant. My hope was that they were in the middle of a remodel. The open kitchen was a nice touch though.
We were greeted by an enthusiastic and smiley server, but were shown to our table by a less than engaging hostess. We sat at a table in the back corner near the kitchen, which gave us a perfect view of the restaurant.
The menu looked like your standard modern Italian fare, but the wine list was interesting, offering unique varietals from all over the world. Being a native Californian, we stayed loyal and ordered a Syrah and a Granache from California’s wine country. We asked our server for recommendations, to which she pointed out the exact dishes we had been eyeing.
They brought out bread and a garlicky balsamic dip to start. The bread was fresh; cool and doughy on the inside, light and crunchy on the outside (just like in Italy). The dip was full of flavor, and was rich enough to only need a few bites. Next we moved on to the arugula pizza with garlic oil, mozzarella, sweet pancetta, and a farm egg in the middle. The crust was thin and crunchy, delightfully firm all the way through the center of the pie. The pancetta was sinfully smoky and salty which was slightly cut by the fresh and peppery arugula. We also shared the spaghettini with slow braised beef and pork ragu. The portion size was perfect; just enough for leftovers for lunch the next day.
Being the biggest fan of kale, we ordered the side of Cavolo Nero (Tuscan Kale) in oil and toasted garlic. It was a healthy bright green, and a more than adequate portion for only $5.
Our server was refreshingly pleasant, and seemed to enjoy her job and believe in the food. However as mentioned, the hostess made us almost uncomfortable, and the support staff were a little too casual. We did wait quite some time before getting our check, but then again we were in no hurry, it being a Sunday evening and all.
We were happy with everything we ordered and overall had a nice experience. I would recommend Sorella di Zza’s to anyone in the area, and should I find myself in Oakland again, I would happily, if not eagerly, head back there myself.