A little pi-Zaza

BY BEN VERHILLE | MAY 08, 2014 5:00 AM

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From farmers' markets and grocery stores to now owning their own shop, Zaza's Pasta is gaining traction as a household name in Iowa City.

Family inspired and quality required, Zaza's opened its doors as an easily accessible marketplace for authentic ingredients to help customers make Italian dinners in their homes.

Opening on May 1 at 518 Bowery, Zaza's previously operated out of owner Julie Parisi's home.

Currently on its fifth season of showing its wares in the Iowa City Farmers' Market, it expanded to the New Pioneer Food Co-op and local Hy-Vee stores.

The historical status of the building is also shown through the family recipes. As soon as Parisi was tall enough to see over the kitchen counter, she was helping prepare family recipes that came from a small town south of Naples. She described her pasta-making process as the only way she knew, coming her grandmother.

The pasta itself comes either dry or fresh, with the intention to be a five-minute or less preparation time. Depending on your cooking style and ability, the time may vary.This offers students a quick and easy way to have a good Italian dinner.  Other menu options include antipasto, main courses, dessert, and espresso.

The owner's favorite fresh pasta was the roasted red pepper ravioli with artichoke and feta cheese. Ravioli by itself doesn't cut it for an Italian dinner, so the suggested pairing was the sun-dried tomato and pistachio pesto.

With the emphasis continually on the freshness, quick storage or preparation are required for ingredients such as these to maintain the quality and intended taste.

With such a blend of flavors, picking out the individual ingredients is very difficult. Using the textures can help to identify each of the tastes.

The natural taste of the sauce helps the pistachio stand out even with the sun-dried tomato. The artichoke has a presence in the ravioli's texture but is masked by the stronger flavors of red pepper and feta cheese.

For the quality and taste of the meal, the preparation was extremely easy. When you need to impress someone with a homemade dinner, this is definitely the route to go.

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