There’s no more basic a food pairing than pizza and a salad. For me, it conjures up memories of after-church trips to Pizza Hut for greasy, apathetic slices of pepperoni pizza and a wilted and slowly spoiling salad bar, watery tubs of ranch dressing only nominally protected from the masses by a sneeze guard. Zaza Fine Salad & Wood-Oven Pizza Company isn’t anything like that: this is pizza and a salad done better than right: it’s simply spectacular, from the huge fresh-made salads loaded with all sorts of toppings (that monster to the left is considered a “small”) to the wood-oven fired gourmet pizzas. Everything is at a pretty attractive price-point, too, so there’s really no excuse to miss it.
We’ve tried a couple of pizzas at Zaza, and we’ve always been impressed with the fresh ingredients they use. On our last trip, we ordered the Margherita (one of our favorite kinds of pizza), and got this lovely pie: rich tomato sauce, fresh sliced mozzarella, fresh basil, and shavings of really good-quality Parmesan cheese over the top. You can’t find many places using mozzarella so soft and fresh that it has to be sliced rather than grated, even though that’s how “real” mozzarella should be. The crust is chewy and flavorful, and even though it can be a bit flimsy with some of the heavier-topping pizzas, the taste is very good. To top it all off, we’ve never waited longer than about 15 minutes for our pizza order, even during a busy Friday lunch rush.
As I mentioned before, Zaza is also famous for their excellent salads, made to order right in front of you. You can order one of their signature recipe salads or build your own, starting with a choice of spinach, romaine lettuce, or our favorite, mixed field greens. Toppings are fresh and include the typical salad veggies, things like chopped avocado, a selection of meats and cheeses, and Zaza’s delicious homemade croutons. Jess and I have easily split a small salad (which costs around $6.00) before our pizza and been completely content with our portion. A large would make a good meal for two by itself. Zaza also carries a very respectable selection of craft beers, including beers from one of my favorite breweries, North Coast Brewing. In fact, on our first trip to Zaza, I mindlessly ordered a Bud Light with my pizza, and when the server went to pour it I noticed that they also had North Coast’s Scrimshaw Pilsner on tap. The server was nice enough to change my drink order on the spot without any sort of upcharge – that’s good service.
Try and save a little room after all your pizza and salad, because no trip to Zaza would be complete without a cup of their homemade gelato. This rich, creamy Italian-style ice cream is a bit pricey but worth every penny. On our last trip, we got a hazelnut-chocolate ganache concoction that I honestly could eat every day and not get tired of; it’s seriously good stuff, and worth taking a trip to Zaza on its own. They’ve got a wide variety of flavors, and I really can’t wait to make it back for more. Zaza advertises that they make their dough, gelato, sauce, and salad dressings fresh daily, and I can certainly believe it after eating there a few times. Little Rock is really blessed with quite a few very good pizza places, and Zaza is right at the top of the list for us. The seating arrangements are quirky, with a few tables on the ground level, more upstairs, and a small patio area. We’ve always found service to be good, and our orders have always arrived promptly and well-prepared.
Zaza Fine Salad & Wood-Oven Pizza Company is located at 5600 Kavanaugh Boulevard in Little Rock. They’re open Sunday-Thursday 10:30 am to 9:00 pm, and Friday-Saturday 10:30 am to 10:00 pm. Enjoy!