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Don’t judge a restaurant by its name

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  • | 7:24 p.m. April 11, 2013
  • Arts + Entertainment
  • Eat + Drink
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When I first learned a new restaurant named Ziti was opening in the former space of Cosimo’s in the Westfield Southgate Mall, I must admit I had preconceived expectations. Did Sarasota really need a red-sauced Italian eatery in a shopping mall? What would make this spot different or special from other restaurants?

Even though the restaurant’s self-proclaimed description referenced the seamless blending of three cuisines---Italian, American and Asian---I was skeptical. What was all the fuss? Could it really be different from other mall dining options? We set out on a mission to find out.

Ziti’s décor is sleek with dark woods, warm lighting, glass and a full bar area. Although the overall space is large, it is smartly divided and provides an intimate dining space. With more Asian overtones than Italian, the décor provided the first insight that Ziti attempts to offer something different.

The second and third insights of differentiation came with the presentation of the menu. If you look carefully at the Ziti logo you will see an Asian treatment and style in the name. Open the menu to discover an extensive and ethnically varied selection of small plates, soups, salads, flatbreads, sandwiches, meat and seafood. For our meals we chose the following:

  • Asian Sesame Salad:  Romaine, bok choy, Napa cabbage, mandarin oranges, crispy sōmen noodles, wasabi peas, edamame and carrots, tossed with ginger sesame.     Large $11.00, small $9.00 A fresh, colorful and textured salad with a crunch in every bite!
  • Shaved Pear Salad:  Arugula and spring mix, Gorgonzola, toasted walnuts and pears, tossed with maple and sherry vinaigrette.    Large $12.00, small $ 7.00 Fresh and flavorful with a creamy, sweet bite.
  • Heart of Palm:  Boston lettuce, hearts of palm, sweet white onion, celery, Roma tomato and avocado, tossed with lemon vinaigrette.    Large $12.00, small $7.00 Loved the textures and colors in this salad. The dressing was fresh and bright.
  • Caprese:  Sliced tomato, fresh mozzarella and basil oil, drizzled with balsamic reduction.    $11.00 Classic Italian; great taste from the tomatoes. Fresh, with just the right amount of bite from the balsamic.
  • Tuna Volcano:  Sesame dusted sushi grade tuna, wasabi, pickled ginger and sriracha.    $13.00 A sushi lover’s delight, fresh and flavorful. Great presentation.
  • Shanghai Shrimp:  Tender, crispy shrimp tossed in a creamy Asian sweet chili sauce served on a bed of crispy sōmen noodles.    $8.00 Tender, crispy, crunchy shrimp with a great chili sauce.
  • Asian Calamari Fritti:  Crispy golden brown calamari tossed with Parmesan, black sesame and served with wasabi aioli.    $10.00 A nice rendition. Loved the crunch and color of the sesame seeds.
  • Crispy Tuna Rolls:  Sushi grade tuna, avocado, sōmen noodles, soy reduction and wasabi sauce.    $12.00 Once again, great quality tuna---fresh and flavorful with a creamy texture from the avocado.
  • Potstickers:  Pork and vegetable stuffed dumplings served with Kalbi dipping sauce.    $7.00 Traditional dumplings with a flavorful sauce.
  • Spicy Sausage Flatbread:  Sausage, fresh fennel, sweet white onion, crushed red pepper, mozzarella and Parmesan.    $12.00 A hearty, filling, full-of-flavor flatbread.
  • Seared Salmon Sandwich:  Pinot grigio butter, pickled red onion, spring mix, fresh daikon sprouts and tomato, with cucumber-caper aioli on ciabatta.    $12.00 “Freshness on a bun”: a briny, creamy, slightly crunchy, juicy sandwich. Finger-licking good.
  • Gorgonzola Penne:  Penne tossed in a Gorgonzola cream sauce, toasted hazelnuts and Gorgonzola crumbles, topped with fresh scallions and cracked black pepper. Gluten-free pasta available upon request.   Large $14.00, small $9.00 The gluten-free was very good, not at all gummy or pasty. The sauce was flavorful and punctuated with texture.
  • Coconut Curry Salmon:  Coconut curry broth, ginger sticky rice and sautéed pea pods.    $22.00 A very fresh fillet of salmon covered in a sweet and flavorful curry. The sticky rice was delicious.
  • Grilled Wasabi Prawns:  Six jumbo shrimp with shiitake mushrooms, asparagus and roasted red peppers served with a sesame rice cake and finished with a savory wasabi sauce and black sesame.    $24.00 Shrimp with a “kick,” nicely plated and presented.
  • Chocolate Ganache:  With créme anglaise and spiced raspberry coulis.    $9.00 Dark, rich and flavorful with a texture that sticks to the roof of your mouth.
  • Nutella Cake: Gluten-free with whipped cream and caramel.    $7.00 A simple, not too sweet cake. A tad dry for me but my dining partner loved it.
  • Tiramisu:    $7.00 Light and creamy with an airy texture and mouthfeel.
  • Vanilla Créme Brulee:    $5.00 Silky lusciousness, one of my faves.

We found the wait staff to be very friendly, attentive, knowledgeable, fast and efficient. In addition to the extensive menu, Ziti offers a full bar service with a happy hour menu served Monday through Saturday.

Although the name Ziti may scream Italian, thinking such would be a mistake. With a wonderfully varied menu, Ziti provides an ethnically diverse dining experience, one which is sure to please your palate. Take my advice: Do not be fooled by the name!


3501 South Tamiami Trail, #201

Sarasota, FL 34239