If you have not been to Zio off Providence road in the Eastover neighborhood, well, you might want to turn off your computer and head in that direction before you look at the following pics. These guys have been serving up Casual Italian from their original New York restaurant since 1946. I can only assume that it started with this handsome devil that I encountered at the front door.
I suggest going with a group when you try Zio for the first time. It is the way Zio should be experienced and you can try as many things as possible (If you don't like to taste and share good food, you will not be welcome at the RT table). If that is not an option, swing by for a pizza. I have NO idea how they can manage to create a crispy crust that is chewy at the same time. Their sweet sausage pie is incredible, but I chose to make my own with sausage and spinach.
I try not to over promise on the blog, but I can truly say Zio makes one of the best pizzas in Charlotte.??To combat the guilt from inhaling an entire pie, I would recommend the roasted pear and gorgonzola salad. It is served?? with roasted sugar pecans and fresh balsamic over field greens. If that doesn't sound good to you, all the RestaurantTraffic in the world can't help ya.
Obviously a lot of Americans will judge an Italian restaurant on their lasagna. Zio does the classic a couple ways. The most popular is the original drenched in their mouth wateringly rich marinara.
In the winter you can also get a heavy and delicious chicken version that is a staple of my "diet" when I am trying to pack on a few lbs for hibernation from sand and sea.
My wife went for the homemade Rigatoni Abruzzi with sweet sausage, plum tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella. Why is it that some of the best dishes seem to have the fewest ingredients?
Next up was the homemade Fettucine. They served it up with baby spinach, cannelini beans, fresh tomato, garlic and EVOO in a parmesan broth. It was a delicate dish that was just enough for a family member looking for lighter fare.
I am so not Italian... Lilly white Aryan features give this away in the dead of summer post beach trip. This said, I feel like I understand Italian food. Simple, fresh ingredients served in ways conducive for sharing with friends and family (preferably served with copious amounts of rich red vino). Frankly, the only thing I do not understand about Zio is why I can always get a table without bribing a door man that resembles this gentleman.
If anyone has a restaurant they would like to put up against Zio in the Italian genre, please let us know so we can try it for ourselves. I am hoping for a jewel hidden out there that I have not found yet...