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Thursday April 24, 2014
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Cafe Zola



pan-European dinner service. It still feels like a cafe in some ways--white tablecloths and candles don't really turn a casual cafe into an elegant restaurant, and the slightly rickety tables and chairs leave a shortage in the atmosphere department. But as far as the food that comes to your table, Zola hasn't missed a beat.

Chef Alan Zakalik's dinner menu is big and bold; he likes flavors that really wow you. Expect rich pastas, assertively seasoned meats, and sauces that demand your attention. This is a cuisine that can take a robust wine pairing like a zinfandel or a cabernet (though one should be mindful of too much robustness in one night).

Some might say Zakalik cooks with a heavy hand, but we liked the ingenuity of his preparations: even lighter dishes like the wild scallops with wine and beet reduction--one of our favorites--ask to be eaten slowly. The sauce was alluringly sweet but not so sweet that it overpowered the tender scallops. It was a sensual, rich meal, but not one that left you feeling glutted.

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