Sneak Peek @ ZAZA Italian Gastrobar in Stamford

Stephanie Webster

Teaser billboards in the windows of Stamford's soon-to-be-open ZAZA portray a scantily clad woman really "enjoying" her pasta. You can't miss it…that's the idea. The Racanelli family, owners and operators of Pizzeria Molto in Fairfield know how to create a little buzz (as anyone who has waited for a table at Molto on a Saturday night knows all too well). Leveraging the success of Molto, their new venture will continue the tradition of the Italian gastropub and is slated to open in early June. Situated on busy Broad street with sidewalk seating, "ZAZA will have more of an urban feel with an active bar scene." says GM, Nick Racanelli Jr. ZAZA's casually chic interior, covered in white marble, red leather, and oversized images depicting Italian street scenes, is both welcoming and sleek. Black glass chandeliers hang like jewels over the communal tables, begging for the party to begin. The decor is clean and sexy, while the menu aims to please. Here is a sneak peak at ZAZA Italian Gastrobar.  

Bucking the trend, you will not find TV's above the bar at ZAZA,  but rather vintage Italian films projected above the entrance to the kitchen (think Fellini's 8 1/2). "Bartenders have been trained to encourage interaction" says Nick Jr.  "You're supposed to leave knowing the people next to you." While you are meeting your neighbors, you will enjoy the same menu found at Pizzeria Molto, traditional Southern Italian comfort food with an occasional foray into the Northern part of the boot. And hey, why change what works?  

For those unfamiliar with Molto's fare, the menu is exhaustive, featuring brick oven pizza in either thin crust or NY style, 26 selections in the Italian Tapas arena, Panini, house made Pasta (all of which are offered in two sizes), classic salads, and hearty entrees. Nick Racanelli Sr. knows a thing or two about pizza. He has been making pies for 40 years, and was the original owner of both Remo's and Lucky's in downtown Stamford. A local cheese maker (Nick Jr. would not disclose a name) delivers fresh Mozzarella and Burrata for the Racanellis, and lobster has made a recent menu debut, featured in their Lobster Ravioli, Lobster Linguini and Arugula Lobster Salad.

The well priced "Global" wine list covers Italian favorites, alongside California and South African labels. If beer is what you're craving, ZAZA's bar will feature a completely frozen high tech tap system called "Sexy" (BSF in Darien has a similar unit) with 4 craft beers including Rogue's Dead Guy Ale, Brooklyn IPA, Delirium Tremens, and the cult classic Pabst Blue Ribbon. Unique whiskey and bourbon selections will also be available. 

And what's better than enjoying a cold beer or decadent cocktail on a warm summer night? Well…nothing really. Completing the bistro experience, ZAZA's Broad Street facing floor to ceiling windows transform into a glass curtain which literally peels back to reveal 10 sidewalk seats, extending the indoor dining space. Additionally, a large outdoor patio has been built in the back of the restaurant allowing for another 40 or so guests. Nick Jr. says he has big plans for this cozy foliage lined "deck." 

The build out is very nearly finished, and as Nick and I toured the completed space, he mentioned that the front door has been open during the last few weeks of construction allowing curious pedestrians to take a peek at the Stamford newcomer. Nick has been reaching out to his new community and welcoming guests in for a glass of wine, and a preview of things to come. This kind of hospitality defines the Racanelli family and will be the key to ZAZA's success. 

ZAZA Italian Gastrobar 122 Broad Street, Stamford. 203. 348.2300

ZAZA Italian Gastrobar on Urbanspoon