December 29, 2016
27 MAIN STREET | RIVERWALK, EDWARDS
970.926.0777 | ZINORISTORANTE.COM
by Suzanne Hoffman
photos by DOMINIQUE TAYLOR
|At family owned and operated Zino Ristorante in Edwards, the food is Italian inspired, but the dynamism and warmth are pure Italian.|
Given its Mediterranean influences, the menu is never boring and always delicious. Biannual menu changes pay homage to the seasons' freshest ingredients. Mainstays include the always-popular house-made burrata, but executive chef and partner Nick Haley's creative streak his grandmother and mom inspired comes alive as seasonal menus take shape.
For his carpaccio this winter, Haley pounds a piece of raw prime New York beef into a square sheet and tops it with festive curls of frozen, shaved foie gras, smoked fleur de sel and droplets of aged balsamic reduction. Grilled flatbread straight out of the pizza oven accompanies the dish for a special treat.
This season's Polipo (octopus) offering is a grilled Spanish octopus salad. Tender olive oil-poached fingerling potatoes, scallions and salsa verde of watercress, chives, anchovies, parsley and capers, combine to make this a tasty starter or even a light main dish.
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Pizzas are the menu rock stars at Zino. Like everything house made in the restaurant, pizza dough production is serious business. High-altitude baking and changing humidity levels challenge the chefs; however, pizzas emerge from the fruitwood-burning oven with bubbly crusts that possess a slight sourdough flavor thanks to the minimum 24-hour fermentation of the dough Haley requires.
This winter, two additions join popular mainstays. Haley's Calzone stuffed with house-made Italian sausage, Piemontese Robiola cheese, caramelized onions, and marinara is akin to a gift-wrapped present. A new choice for meat lovers is the Porchetta pizza. Thin slices of imported Tuscan porchetta (moist boneless pork roast), Italian speck, Fontina, and charred scallions top this tasty pizza.
Pasta handmade daily vies with pizza for menu rock star status. Rabbit returns this winter as a sugo (sauce) over porcini-filled ravioli topped with a luscious rabbit sauce. Most Zino loyalists will fight to insure that Haley keeps the pappardelle with veal meatballs, ricotta and marinara on the menu. The approximately 22,000 meatballs served in the first 11 months of 2016 bear witness to the dish's popularity.
Haley's main dishes — secondi piatti — include servings of popular creations such as Colorado chicken baked in the pizza oven, tagliata — a 12-ounce Prime New York Strip — and pork chop Milanese.
Of course, vegetarians can always find plenty of choices on the menu. The well-trained members of the service staff are knowledgeable liaisons between diners and the kitchen that can help modify dishes to address dietary restrictions.
Whether for drinks in the vibrant upstairs bar or vinous libations to pair with Haley's menu, Naples-born partner Giuseppe Bosco's well-curated, reasonably priced wine list has something for all palates and budgets. Most of the wines are Italian — primarily Tuscan and Piemontese — but guests can also find excellent choices from American wineries.
Bosco's infectious energy in the front of the house and the inventive cuisine of well-traveled, Piemontese-trained Chef Haley combine to make Zino a local's favorite that Vail Valley guests can enjoy year-round. •
Apps and Salads
$11-$15 Pizzas, pastas and entreés $16-$35
Warm winter welcome
Burrata (semi-soft fresh white Italian cheese), Fruitwood-fired pizzas and pasta fatta in casa (fresh pasta made in-house daily)
Warm, fun welcome given to kids of all ages