zio’s italian restaurant / north park | san diego, ca
Update: This restaurant is now closed.
This is another one of my “Adventures in Groupons!” in which I buy certificates for places I have never been to before and drag Jake (or another accomplice) along for adventurous eating. We’ve had some hits and we’ve had some misses to the point that sometimes Jake is wary of new places, especially new Italian places. He hasn’t really liked any of the “adventures” we’ve had in trying to find new, good Italian restaurants but I think after this visit to Zio’s in North Park he might start warming up to the idea of new Italian food again.
Jake and I visited Zio’s recently on a Wednesday evening. The place was empty. I thought this might have been some kind of bad sign, but I’m glad to say I was wrong.
First off, we got to sit in some really comfy chairs for dinner.
Our table was just like this one. I loved the chairs!
We also saw they have some pretty good specials. We were both interested in the Spaghetti Saturday – you get to try 3 different sauces for $12? And eat as much as you can stuff in your mouth? Crazy!
We deliberated for awhile before deciding on our dishes. We did decide on getting garlic bread though. I think that’s a must in general. I love bread so much, it’s ridiculous. Damn you and your delicious bready carbs.
This Cheesy Garlic Bread ($5) is made with 5 cheeses and lightly toasted. I could have used more garlic, but I love garlic, probably more than most people. I will also admit I wasn’t crazy about the choice of bread used (it seemed like a split french roll) but it was decent enough and of course we gobbled it all up. I would have loved it more on a crustier bread, but I’m picky like that.
Each of our dinners came with either a cup of soup or an Italian House Salad. I got the house salad with a bacon vinaigrette on the side. I carefully spooned some of the vinaigrette on my salad and removed every black olive from my sight before I dug in. I really liked the vinaigrette – it had a nice subtle, smoky, bacon flavor. The salad itself was crisp and fresh.
Jake got a cup of Potato Soup for his starter. I like how my camera zoomed in on the oyster crackers instead of the soup… silly camera. He really enjoyed this soup – I thought it was funny that it was literally in a cup. It had some good potato chunks and a nice overall flavor.
Jake ended up getting the Italian Sausage Fusilli ($12) as his meal. He was going to get the same thing as me until I ordered it and decided to get this instead so we could try something else. Whenever we go to new places he doesn’t get the same thing as me so we can try more than one dish. He decided he really wanted some Italian sausage with his meal and went with this which is tossed simply in garlic, olive oil, and butter. The sausage was slightly spicy but not lingering. Jake ate every bite of this and loved it.
I ended up getting the Garlic Spaghetti with Shrimp ($14). This dish is also offered plain or with chicken if you’re not a shrimp lover like I am. This was a very simple dish – just garlic, olive oil and butter (plus cheese!). This is totally something like a dish I would make for myself at home – tons of garlic! Of course, at home I would also add just a few red pepper flakes for just a hint of something spicy in the background. While the shrimp tails are quite pretty, I was slightly annoyed at having to remove them, but ho-hum. I ate half of this so I could have the leftovers for lunch the next day and the leftovers held up quite well.
We had already gone over our allotment of the Groupon, but I still wanted dessert. I wanted a Cannoli ($4.50). Sweet custard (but not overpoweringly sweet), crispy shell and a nice drizzle of sauces and powdered sugar, this totally hit the spot for my sweet tooth. I probably could have eaten this whole thing by myself. Jake only took a few bites so I practically did. I felt slightly guilty about it and then quickly got over it since it was delicious.
Zio’s Italian Restaurant is a quaint little restaurant nestled into the north side of North Park off of El Cajon Blvd. It’s casual dining, nothing super fancy, and all at reasonable prices. This is definitely more of an Americanized Italian food more than anything else. The menu is filled with things I would make for myself, but instead of making it myself and having to do dishes, we went out to eat and someone else does the dishes. Thank god. If you’re looking for yet another option in the North Park area, be sure to check out Zio’s!
Zio’s Italian Restaurant
2940 El Cajon Blvd (at 30th Street)
San Diego, CA 92104