Cuisine: Italian, Pizza,
Restaurant Features: Bar, On-Site Parking<
Location: Forest Lake, MN
Address: 25 North Lake Street, Suite 105 Forest Lake, MN 55025 651-464-0111
Links: Google Map * ‘Za Italian Website * ‘ZA on Facebook
Atmosphere: This was my first visit to ‘Za, although I have driven by many times. The restaurant is in the lower-level of a large business complex at the Intersection of Broadway and Lake St, right on Forest Lake. The restaurant was classier than I expected, with several wall-sized windows facing Forest Lake. The restaurant sits above street level, so there was a decent view of the lake (beyond the parking lot). ‘Za has several tables and a few bistro tables as well. Mostly casual, but the dim lights as it grew dark gave it a more romantic feel.
Menu: Appetizers include Calamari with Marinara, Artichoke Dip, Chicken Tenders and Garlic Cheese Bread.
The salads at ‘Za include Antipasto, Caesar and Spinach.
Za also has a variety of delicious pastas including Lobster Ravioli, Cheese Tortellini, Chicken Parmesan, Alfredo with Chicken or Shrimp, Cheese Ravioli, Pesto Cream Fettuccine with Chicken or Shrimp, Spaghetti, Garlic Herb Penne, and Za’s Own Famous Bread Boule Lasagna.
Like its name suggests, ‘Za also specializes in Pizzas and Calzones. Specialties include the Bellisima, Full House, Garlic Cream Sauce with Chicken and Spinach, Hawaiian Hawg, Italian Rose, Meat Me at ‘Za, Pesto Pollo, Primo, Ragin’ Cajun, St. Louis Luau, Veggie Villa, and The Mother Lode.
If anyone is tempted to go for a burger instead of Italian or pizza, ‘Za also has a handful of specialty burgers served with Steak-cut Fries.
Desserts are Cheesecake, Big Baby Bundt, and Tiramisu.
Price guide: Appetizers $6-7 Salads $3-7 Pasta $9-15 Calzones $ 9-14 Pizza $9-23 Burgers $10
What I ordered: To start, my companions and I shared an order of Garlic Cheese Bread. It was nice and buttery and the cheese was bubbly and light brown on top. The garlic wasn’t over the top, but it had a pleasant amount of oregano. The marinara was also pretty good, more on the sweet than spicy side.
I was still starving by the time my meal came, and I was kind of disappointed to discover there were only five raviolis on my plate (with one BIG meatball). The sauce was what ‘Za calls “Basil-Pinenut Pesto Butter Marinara Sauce”, which was basically a creamy red sauce. The raviolis were stuffed full of cheeses and more filling than I had thought. True to my word, I ate the entire plate (which is very rare!) and I was stuffed beyond belief for the rest of the night!
One of my companions had the spinach salad. This salad has red peppers, black olives, red onions, walnuts, pineapple, and a raspberry-walnut vinaigrette with chicken (gorgonzola is optional). Looked delicious!
Two of my companions both ordered the chicken parmesan. This is a baked dish and the sauce had been absorbed into the pasta and was on the dry side. Both girls thought more sauce or a side of sauce would’ve made it better. Very large portion.
And last but definitely not least, one of my companions had the famous Lasagna cooked in a bread boule. The best way to describe this creation is a hybrid between lasagna and deep-dish pizza. The crust was buttery and crispy, baked to perfection!
Service: It was a Saturday night and Za’ was pretty filled up, we were lucky to get a table for five almost immediately. We had a young server who was nice but not overly friendly. Food took awhile, but it was mostly worth the wait.
Overall Impression: I liked it! I thought the prices were reasonable and the food and atmosphere were also very nice. The lasagna in the bread boule was a unique find! Glad I finally stopped in, would not hesitate to go back.