Zio (restaurant review)

i really mean to write more about the restaurants and wine bars and places i fall into in this city. i really do. one of my blog goals for 2014 should probably be to write more about all the fun and fabulous venues that make this out-and-about city so spectacular.

last night, i had an awesome dining experience at Zio, an Italian and Mediterranean restaurant in the Flatiron district (19th St between 5th and 6th Aves). a friend is very close with the owners and promised me i wouldn’t be disappointed by anything at this place.

photo: John Lei, 2011

photo: John Lei, 2011

welp, he was right. it was wonderful.

named after the Italian word for uncle,  Zio’s owners aim to create an inviting, familial ambiance, where the patrons feel as comfortable and welcome as if they were hanging out at their uncle’s house amongst friends and family. the decor is warm and plush, the vibe casual chic, and the service was outstanding.  we had the extra added luxury of being seated at the chef’s table  just outside the open kitchen (see picture below). talk about first-class service! it’s so nice to have friends who know people in the restaurant business here — definitely adds a personal element to the whole experience.

photo: John Lei, 2011

photo: John Lei, 2011

we started with wine, of course, while i let the owner choose for me after telling him my preferences, and he chose a fabulous one: Fabiana ‘Kalema’ Primitivo (similar to a red Zin). so, so drinkable. i’ll certainly be purchasing this again (and again, and again…)


and then the food…oh, man, the food. now, i’m not generally big on Italian cuisine as i’m not a pasta or meat girl at all, but Zio does boast an impressive list of homemade pastas, so if that’s your thing, you should get there stat.

the Mediterranean thrust really elevated this menu for me, and i looooved everything we ordered. we started with the tuna tartare and then split two amaaaazing fish dishes: the Chilean sea bass and the sesame seed encrusted tuna steak. it was fish heaven.


we were then surprised with complementary dessert and some sort of fennel-infused digestif  — neither of which i needed, but all of which i sampled. doesn’t pay to be rude, now. 🙂

although the flavors were interesting, i wasn’t a big fan of the drink, as licorice is so not my thing. that little sweet potato cheesecake with chestnuts on top, however — thattt was ridiculous. it was fluffy and not very sweet and totally a perfect blend of warm spices and flavors and everything you hope a light little bite would be.

i also managed to snag a photo with the three owners: Roberto, Max (also the head chef), and Darren. they’ve done a fabulous job of creating an enticing atmosphere and an outstanding menu, paired with first class service and warmth. safe to say that i’ll certainly be returning to Zio.

Are you into Italian food? Mediterranean?

Any good wine suggestions for me? Always looking to expand that list. 🙂




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