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Bites Nearby: ZaZa's Trattoria Has Family Recipes With a Northern Italian Twist

No hype, just home-cooked, quality ingredients in a cozy environment.

In the mood for some authentic Italian fare and don’t want to resort to a chain restaurant in Oak Brook? ZaZa’s Trattoria at 441 W. Ogden Avenue in Clarendon Hills hits the mark with their generous portions and fresh tasting dishes.

The exterior is an unassuming store front and you could easily miss it. The interior mimics a cozy family room... a lofted ceiling, dark wood and a lot of black and white celelbrity photos on the wall. Not a big place, just quaint and airy.

Immediately a server starts us off with a glass of wine. Our friends hadn’t arrived and the host still sat us at our table. There was no “have a seat at the bar and we’ll seat you when your entire party arrives” mumbo jumbo. ZaZa's Trattoria welcomed us into their home.

I’m a huge fan of smaller menus. My theory is if the restaurant only makes a few things, then they focus on making them well. For starters, the Insalata Caprese arrives. Huge slices of red ripe tomatoes were topped with mozzarella and basil leaves. Simple and delicious.

A wonderful “Specials” menu offered a lot of appetizing and seasonal choices. I opted for the lobster ravioli. The pillows of pasta were swimming in an amazing sauce. It was so rich and cheesey. The sharpness of the Romano definitely stood out.

Everything at the table looked outstanding: the soft-shell crab, the gnocchi and especially the Osso Bucco. The tender shank of fall-off-the-bone veal was placed on a bed of risotto. Sampling a bit from my friend’s plate all I can say is: bellissimo!

It's a great date-night or business-meeting location, but if you’re going to bring your kids in the evening, make sure they’re well behaved. Even though it’s not a formal place, it still has a “white tablecloth” feel.

Laurie Whitman August 18, 2011 at 10:51 PM
I love ZaZa's. As you said, Antella, it is a perfect spot for lunch with friends or a nicer dinner with family. I have not had a bad meal there and have introduced this restaurant to quite a few friends, all of whom loved it too! Thanks for the nearby bite!

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