CALIFORNIA ITALIAN AT ITS ZESTIEST; TOUCH OF L.A. ACCENTS ZACH'S HYBRID FARE.Byline: Larry Lipson Daily News Restaurant Critic
They label the food at Zach's ``classic California Italian dining.''
Whatever it means, it works.
Zach's Italian Cafe, which moved into the former Mary's Lamb converted residence in Studio City, now has a second Ventura Boulevard Ventura Boulevard is one of the primary east-west thouroughfares in the San Fernando Valley; as it was originally a part of the El Camino Real (the trail between Spanish missions), Ventura Boulevard is the oldest route in the San Fernando Valley. It was also U.S. location in Encino, previously the home of Earth, Wind and Flour.
And if you're wondering what classic Californian Italian food is, you probably should try and picture a sort of updated pizzeria without red-and-white checked tablecloths where, for reasons like having both a Chinese chicken salad Chinese chicken salad, as its name suggests, is a salad with chicken, popular in the United States. The Asian influence comes from common Asian-themed ingredients. Though many variations exist, common features of most salads described as "Chinese chicken" contain lettuce, chicken, and a Cobb salad The Cobb salad was a signature menu item of the legendary Brown Derby in Hollywood, a landmark restaurant in Los Angeles, California. Variations of the salad are now served in restaurants world-wide. (both invented in Hollywood) being listed on its menu, it earns its Californian accent.
But don't look for arugula arugula
Yellowish-flowered European herbaceous plant (Eruca vesicaria sativa), of the mustard family, cultivated for its foliage, which is used especially in salads. or radicchio ra·dic·chi·o
n. pl. ra·dic·chi·os
Any of several varieties of chicory, having red or red-spotted leaves that form globose or elongated heads. on Zach's bill of fare, nor polenta po·len·ta
A thick mush made of cornmeal boiled in water or stock.
[Italian, from Latin, crushed grain, barley meal.]
Noun 1. , nor pesto.
And the late Bob Cobb Bob Cobb can refer to:
The Brown Derby was a landmark restaurant in Los Angeles frequented by celebrities during the Golden Age of Hollywood. It was an example of novelty architecture, known for being physically shaped like a brown derby hat. restaurant, though Zach's vague interpretation ($7.50) isn't at all bad.
But at either location, you'll know exactly where you are, in good ol' L.A., certainly not in Italy, when you see a plate of goat cheese lasagna ($8.75) on the menu, or Thai chicken on pizza ($12 or $17) or the same Thai chicken tossed with pasta ($8.95).
And you'll have cause to rejoice when you notice an inspired L.A.-style creation such as hazelnut chicken in an orange cream thyme sauce ($9.95) inscribed in·scribe
tr.v. in·scribed, in·scrib·ing, in·scribes
a. To write, print, carve, or engrave (words or letters) on or in a surface.
b. To mark or engrave (a surface) with words or letters. on this comprehensive bill of fare.
The latter, an incredibly enjoyable piece of moist, boneless Bone´less
a. 1. Without bones.
Adj. 1. boneless - being without a bone or bones; "jellyfish are boneless" , breast of chicken crusted with a mixture of bread crumbs and crushed hazelnuts, would have been even more spectacular one evening if the sauce had not been watery thin.
But like so many of the dishes at Zach's, the basic taste is the overall determinant of satisfaction.
Zach's doesn't go in for the frou-frou approach to cooking. And don't expect a great deal of cutting-edge finesse or artistic plate arrangements out of the kitchen.
That stuff is left for the more expensive places.
So, at Zach's you put up with a thin sauce and remember that this dish also has good, fresh vegetables and more importantly, is ticketed under $10.
You also might want to pass up the limited wine offerings on the list for a chilled pint of J.W. Dundee draft honey brew ($3.25) or a bottle of New Amsterdam Amber ($3.75).
At Zach's, the regular customer, the one who returns more than once a week, sensibly receives the most overall attention, though perhaps not on an individual basis. Thus, this translates into a restaurant that is generally geared more toward consistent returnees, which probably is why the menu has a rich variety of dish diversity.
And undoubtedly is why the possible boredom of the same soups day after day is removed by instituting daily changes.
I remember, for instance, a cup of herb tomato soup ($2) one day that was a real pleaser, also a skillfully executed, tasty chicken and vegetable ($2) recipe.
Both big and small appetites are appeased here. You can go for heartier stuff such as a platter of rigatoni rig·a·to·ni
Pasta in ribbed, slightly curved, large-sized tubes.
[Italian, from rigato, past participle of rigare, to draw a line, from riga, line, topped with sausage slices, roasted red peppers and a zesty tomato sauce ($7.25) or opt for lighter fare such as linguine tossed with a scattering of crunchy shrimp, sweet scallops, mushrooms, zucchini, garlic and basil. The latter, titled seafood Napoli ($10.95), comes with a nicely restrained sauce of olive oil, lemon and white wine ($10.95).
Zach's, in the middle of the fierce competition of pasta and pizza places in the San Fernando Valley San Fernando Valley
Valley, southern California, U.S. Northwest of central Los Angeles, the valley is bounded by the San Gabriel, Santa Susana, and Santa Monica mountains and the Simi Hills. , seems to have discovered a formula that appeals.
Call it Californian-Italian or Italian-Californian, it certainly attracts customers.
The restaurant: Zach's Italian Cafe.
Where: 10820 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, and 17644 Ventura Blvd., Encino.
When: Open for lunch, dinner and snacks from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday, from 4 to 10 p.m. Sunday.
Recommended items: Herb-tomato and chicken vegetable soups, hazelnut chicken in orange cream thyme sauce, goat cheese lasagna, Italian sausage and roasted red peppers, seafood Napoli.
How much: Starters from $2 to $7, pizzas and calzones from $7 to $17, pastas and entrees from $5.75 to $14, desserts from $2.50 to $4. Beer and wine. All major credit cards accepted.
Wine list: Short list of 10 reasonably priced labels ($12 to $22 per bottle), all available by the glass from $3.25 to $7.
Reservations: Parties of seven or more only. Call (818) 762-4225 in Studio City, (818) 986-0772 in Encino.
Our rating: Three Stars for food; Three Stars for service; One and One Half Stars for wine.
Photo: Zach's Italian Cafe owner Matt DeMasi serves up a few of the items available at the Studio City restaurant.
Tina Gerson/Daily News