Pie One On
Scarsdale’s ZaZa Pizzeria: Westchester’s new Za tsar?
The Westchester dining scene is replete with pizza, from the egg-and-truffle-topped, wood-fired rounds at Tarry Lodge to the coal-fired clam pies at Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana. We have Sal’s in Mamaroneck, an iconic (or, at least, well-liked) American slice joint, and a couple of pizza pioneers, Johnny’s in Mount Vernon (opened 1942) and Roma in Tuckahoe (1931). Westchester has oddball pies, like All’ Antica’s gamberi—topped with garlicky shrimp—and new and notable pizzeria openings, like the Frankie and Fanucci’s offshoot in Mamaroneck. With such a density of pizzaioli spinning all sorts of pies, it’s a wonder that Scarsdale’s ZaZa bothered to enter the fray at all. So what’s ZaZa’s shtick?
Its pizza is good. Period.
It’s blackened in all the right spots, with a few charred bubbles on top and the occasional black slash on its firm bottom crust. And though pizzologists wax poetic about wood versus coal ovens—and it’s true that ZaZa has a formidable Acunto wood-fired oven—the real charm of ZaZa’s pie lies in its fluffy interior crust. At ZaZa, the pizza dough is prepared in-house using imported, Caputo “00” flour, a silky, ultra-milled Neapolitan flour common in pizzerias in Italy. The “00” lends a refined cakiness to the crust’s interior. The pizza, pulled from ZaZa’s Acunto, arrives delicately scented with wood smoke and a satisfying crunch.
ZaZa’s toppings are also refined, and often include tender mozzarella di buffala, which melts into moony, white pools that deliver a lush, milky intensity. You’ll taste complex (and pricey) Parmigiano Reggiano and funky/salty/sheep-y Pecorino cheese, while tomato sauce—when applicable—is simply a purée of imported San Marzano tomatoes. Our favorites at ZaZa include the Sorbillo: a basic mozzarella pie topped after baking with crisp, peppery arugula leaves, prosciutto di Parma, truffle oil, and basil. Or the Napulee, strewn with a caramelized crumble of well-spiced Italian sausage whose mellow, porky richness is highlighted by slightly bitter broccoli rabe. Less strictly traditional, but equally tasty, was zi’ Teresa, topped with waxy new potatoes roasted with rosemary, fluffy mounds of ricotta, and crunchy walnut meats.
While ZaZa’s pies are excellent, you will pay for their quality. The 10- to 12-inch pies, cut into four slices, run from $16 to $19 and provide an over-abundant meal for one, or a snug meal for two. We found their size ideal for two if paired with one of the filling antipasti or a split serving of salad, which, at ZaZa, are always quite large.
ZaZa’s short list of mains, ambitiously priced in the $19 to $30 range, are out of the purview of this review’s criteria—though, sadly, among the starters, pastas, and salads, we found no non-pizza dishes to compare with the excellence of ZaZa’s pies.
Still, there are many things to like about ZaZa beyond its wonderful pizza. It is a large, colorful, and cheerfully decorated place whose staff is primed to respond to the often-urgent needs of families. (And this works: whenever we visited, we saw happy families dining en masse.) ZaZa’s by-the-glass wines ($6-$9) are inexpensive and perfectly drinkable, while it also serves six more bottled beers reaching beyond the basic Moretti. To finish, there are crisp cannoli filled with dense, sugary ricotta cream, and, if you’re lucky—or unlucky (depending on how you view these things)—on Friday nights, there are live Italian-American hits sung by a strolling singer.
♦ ♦ ♦
753 Central Ave, Scarsdale
Hours: Mon to Thurs 11:30 am-10 pm; Fri and Sat 11 am–11 pm; Sun 12 pm-9:30 pm.
Appetizers: $8-$19; entrées: $19-$30; pizza: $14-$19.
♦ ♦ ♦ ♦—Outstanding ♦ ♦ ♦ —Very Good
♦ ♦ —Good ♦ —Fair