Restaurant Review - Zia's Caffe
was a rainy night – really rainy, the kind of rain where you pull the
car over to the side of the highway while the downpour passes. It was, in
short, a perfect night for a cozy dinner, perhaps a steaming plate of
Caffe, located in Kailua, proved to be a cheery beacon in the storm, with
a brightly lit dining area and red-and-white-checked tablecloths. The
indoor/outdoor atmosphere is decidedly casual. [One tip: Because the
restaurant borders a parking lot, try one of the tables toward the back
and you’ll have a nicer view.] I ordered a glass of Lindemans Reserve
Merlot in anticipation of a pasta meal. The wine was slightly spicy, with
blackcurrant and subtle mint flavors. Our server, Kate, was warm and
friendly as she brought over a basket of complimentary olive tapenade and
there were four of us dining, we decided to split an order of warm and
gooey garlic cheese bread ($3.50) served with a tomato dipping sauce. We
also shared the hot antipasto ($8.95), which came with mussels, shrimp and
very tender strips of calamari. The seafood was swimming in a lemony,
buttery broth that was also perfect for dipping bread.
run into a friend as we entered Zia’s and he had heartily recommended
the chicken piccata ($9.95). It’s a chicken breast served with a white
wine, butter-garlic sauce with capers, and we were given a choice of
spaghetti or linguine to have it served over. It’s a giant portion, so
unless you’re really hungry, you’ll have plenty of leftovers for lunch
the next day. Another entrée, chicken parmesan ($10.95), is similarly
proportioned. Covered with tomato sauce, the breaded chicken was also
smothered in hot, melted cheese. Yum.
out the “surf” side of the restaurant’s offerings, we tried the
seafood arrabiatta ($14.95). The pasta was covered with shrimp and mussels
in a tomato sauce, with Italian parsley and bacon. It was good but if you
like things spicy, you may want to add some red-pepper flakes. The
calamari picatta ($10.95) was excellent. The strips of calamari were very
tender and not at all chewy. The lemony, caper-studded sauce was just
right – tangy yet restrained.
you’re interested in lighter fare, there are plenty of options, too: the
lunch-friendly mandarin orange chicken salad ($8.95), a tangy pear and
blue cheese salad ($7.95) and spinach salad with balsamic dressing
($6.95). Vegetarians will enjoy the house-made minestrone ($2.95), veggie
lasagna ($8.95) or eggplant parmesan ($9.95).
glad we’d saved a little room for dessert, because Zia’s really shines
in this department. The blueberry-cream cheese bread pudding ($4.95),
served a la mode, is a house-made specialty. A walnut crust provided
firmament for the otherwise fluffy bread pudding. It was hard to put the
fork down but we also had to contend with the “tiger” brownie ($4.95):
a blonde and chocolate brownie swirled with chocolate chips on a coconut
graham cracker crust. Not decadent enough yet? Don’t worry, it’s also
served with a scoop of ice cream.
While you may arrive at Zia’s on a less
rainy night than we had, but you’re sure to enjoy the homey Italian fare
and attentive service this sunny restaurant offers.