EAT: Capture playful and traditional Italian flavors at Zino in Edwards
Editor’s note: This story first appeared as a paid feature in EAT Magazine, highlighting restaurants across the valley.
A lot of restaurants talk about being a family, but Zino lives it. 8Whether you’re three years old, just learning how to eat in restaurants, or all grown up and searching for a true dining experience, the modern Italian hotspot is a friendly haven.
Though the restaurant has two distinct spaces, the full menu is available everywhere, meaning you could have pizzas in the dining room or braised pork shank with polenta at the bar. But something that has been on the menu since day one is where everyone should start: the burrata.
The globe of house-made cheese is traditionally filled with stracciatella. Co-owner and and Executive Chef Nick Haley’s version is packed with ultra-soft ricotta, which gently oozes out when you slice in. Cherry tomatoes poached in olive oil and fennel pesto give flavorful boosts, and grilled ciabatta makes a texturally welcome vessel for it all. It’s perfect for sharing, which can be a key element to the Zino experience.
Haley does that a lot with his food: taking something traditional and giving it a little tweak, a personal touch.
“That’s why I like Italian food,” Haley said. “I can be a purist, bringing out the true flavor of ingredients. But it’s also about having fun and enjoying your space. You can have awesome food, but you need to be able to enjoy the moment.”
Enjoying that moment is made easier by the intuitive attention of general manager and co-owner Giuseppe Bosco, who tends to both guests and staff with an ease born of decades in the restaurant business. He is fully capable of chatting with one table and noticing a diner across the restaurant looking for something. With a nod of his head he sends a server to the guest in need, never breaking the pace of the conversation. It’s true hospitality.
Regulars will recognize the menu’s mainstays, from the funghi pizza with wild mushrooms, arugula, mozzarella and truffle oil to the rigatoni with house-made smoked elk sausage and rapini. And the ortulana salad — “gardener’s salad” — shows up every winter, rife with grilled portobellos, winter squash and artichokes, the roasted tomatoes and beet puree giving a sweet boost.
But of course, Haley likes to bring in new dishes. This season, the gnocchi is made with butternut squash. The vibrant color and sweet, toothsome texture say it’s worth it. Studded with succulent chunks of short rib and swimming in a savory sugo, or broth, it’s soul-satisfying. He likes to rotate his fish, too, simply listing “pesce del giorno,” or fish of the day, on the menu. Recently, Zino served seared grouper with riso nero, cherry tomatoes, artichoke hearts and a saffron beurre fondue. But it could be anything that catches Haley’s eye.
“Family is what makes Zino Zino,” the chef said. “I love that it feels like an Italian restaurant in Italy.”
Insalata and pizza: $13-$19
Pasta and secondi piatti: $25-$36
Neighborhood bar and bistro serving contemporary Italian cuisine
Pappardelle with veal meatballs, house ricotta, frico chip and marinara