We’ve been trying to check out ZAZA for quite some time now. Since meandering through the doors of the yet-to-open restaurant back in May, we’ve stopped by only to be turned elsewhere by huge crowds, long waits, and the will of the famed Pizza Tour fedora. But at long last, we finally found the time to venture over to the former home of 122 Pizza Bistro for one of Stamford’s newest (at least relatively speaking) pies.
Establishment. ZAZA never struck us as a traditional pizzeria, mostly because it isn’t one. It’s a “gastrobar” by name, with all that it entails: a mozzarella tasting menu, Italian tapas, a huge wine bar, trendy clientele, and a lot of dark paint and red leather.
While a little off-putting and distinctly not our speed at first, ZAZA drew us in with super comfortable seating (save for the table sharing thing, which is weird), decent service, and an inviting—albeit a little vampirey—atmosphere that we really warmed up to. It didn’t hurt, of course, that their menu was anchored by a very familiar menu centerpiece—brick oven pizza.
Pizza. Typical Pizza Tour fashion, we ordered a plain napoletana pie and one with sausage in the name of science and consistency (don’t call it boring).
What was immediately striking were the vibrant colors and strong aromas of this pizza’s fresh components. On top of an expertly cooked, golden brown crust was a fresh, tangy, chunky tomato sauce; smooth, delicious mozzarella (also browned to perfection); and just enough fresh basil to give the pie a very bright flavor profile. The sauce was almost too subtle, however, as most of us felt that it was a bit under-seasoned.
The sausage pizza left a little to be desired, as our favorite topping was pretty stingily and inconsistently sprinkled across the pie (which is unfortunate because its saltiness really highlighted the subtleties we missed on the plain pie), but most of the high spots from the napoletana pizza carried over to this one. A minor knock on both pies is that their delicately thin, airy crust cools really fast—not a huge problem seeing as the three of us wolfed down these 12” personal pies in about 6 minutes, but still worth mentioning.
Also worth mentioning is ZAZA’s unusual subversion of our stupid square slices pet peeve in which a square pizza is cut into wedges, as one would expect a round pizza to be served. Mind-blowing, we know. Fortunately, the inverse of this Greek abomination of a cutting technique is hardly offensive at all and didn’t stand in the way of the top-notch flavors and textures of a really good pizza.
Bottom line. ZAZA is packed to the rafters on the weekends and it’s pretty obvious why: an inherent trendiness gets people in the door once, but dedication to clean, fresh flavors across the menu (but most importantly with pizza, of course) forces them to return.
Hits the Spot: 7.3/10
Large cheese: $10.50 (12")