Monday, June 23, 2014

Meeting Up With Old Friends at Zito's


Zito's Pizza
156 N. Glassell
Orange, CA 92866

I was thinking about something not food related for a change this week. Yes, sometimes my mind does wander, thinking about non-restaurant things, but only rarely. As we are planning our wedding, and getting our guest list in order, I realized that I am still in contact with a great many friends from high school, junior high, and even elementary school, (Go Fairmont!). My side of the guest list is dotted with people I would have probably lost touch with, if it was not for Facebook. Nowadays, people do not have to wait ten years to see their friends at awkward reunions, you just log on, and see what your friends had for dinner, where they went on vacation, and also who they are supporting in the next presidential election. I bring all this up because we were going out to dinner with a friend of mine from 5th grade, who messaged me on Facebook that he was going to be in town. He of course left the restaurant planning to me. Since he was going to have his kids with him, I thought pizza made sense. That brought us to Zito's Pizza in Orange.

Zito's is a mini chain of pizza places spread across the cities of Orange and Anaheim. They have five locations now, and also have a sit down restaurant in Tustin, in the Enderle Shopping Center. Zito's came about when owner, Steve Silverstein lamented the poor quality of pizzas available around OC. He vowed to make a better pizza than what was available, by offering a large pizza with over fifty pieces of pepperoni, a pound of cheese, and house made sauces. His business strategy must be working, as we arrived at their Downtown Orange spot, and observed a steady stream of customers picking up pizzas and eating them there.

This location of Zito's is set off of the street a bit, and right across the way from the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. They have plenty of seating here, with a lively patio out front, and plenty of seating inside the brick walled restaurant. Ordering is done at the counter, then the food is brought out to you. We grabbed a seat in the side room of this restaurant, which did get a little loud, with the cramped quarters and the blaring TVs showing what would eventually end up being the last game of the Stanley Cup Finals. The menu at Zito's is pretty much what you would expect, pizza, pastas, and sandwiches reign supreme here. After ordering, catching up with our old friends, and watching a little hockey, I was definitely ready for some food. Let's see how everything turned out for us on this trip to Zito's Pizza.


We had reached Zito's a few minutes ahead of Rob and Julie and took the liberty of ordering a couple appetizers, the first of which was one of Katie's favorite things to try in a pizza place, the Garlic Knots ($5.99). These knots are dusted with garlic butter and Parmesan cheese, and served with a side of marinara. A little on the smaller size, they were a little doughy inside, but had a decent crunch on the outer portion. They had just the right amount of garlic and Parmesan cheese included here. The marinara was fine, but I always like my garlic knots with ranch dressing. Katie liked these, but declared that they are still not as good as the ones at Oggi's.




As much as Katie loves garlic knots, I am as much a sucker for sausage rolls. The Stuffed Sausages ($6.99) at Zito's come two to an order, and the sausages and mozzarella cheese are encased in pizza dough, then baked and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. The sausage was well made, the pizza dough was a great vessel for this appetizer, but there needed to be a little more mozzarella cheese included in this, and a little less dough for the size of the sausage. Still a strong starter though.




Both Julie and Katie wanted to start with salads. Katie selected the Large Caesar ($7.49). This wasn't crazy big, but enough for at least two people to share. The produce was fresh, there was plenty of Parmesan cheese and croutons on here, and I liked that they gave us two sides of dressing, because I like a little more dressing than the average person. Not a bad Caesar for sure. Julie had the Small Dinner Salad ($3.49) to start. This basic salad had greens, peppercinis, carrots, tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese in it, with packaged salad dressing on the side. It looked good from across the table, and Julie did not complain too much about it, but she would have probably had a hard time getting a word in with Rob there. Sorry big guy.


Rob and Julie's awesome son Ian is not the biggest fan of pizza, (weird that a kid would not like pizza), but he seemed very content with this child's portion of Spaghetti ($4.99). This was a very basic spaghetti, with just noodles and marinara sauce. He finished a good amount of this, which enabled us to get dessert later. Good job Ian. The menu said this comes with a cookie, but we saw no sign of the cookie anywhere.


All four of us adults got our own personal sized pizzas to try. Let's start with mine, the Zito's Meat Lover's ($8.49). I know, not shocking that this would be mine. It came topped with plenty of ham, bacon, Italian sausage, and pepperoni. I really liked that this pizza was covered with plenty of meat. The cheese was spread a little sporadically, and the sauce was a little lighter than I would have liked. The dough here is pretty good, but I did not eat a lot of the thick crust. I'm not much of a crust guy though. Good version of a meat lovers, and it did fill me up.


Katie likes a little more variety on her pizza, so she had the Zito's Special ($8.99). This pizza came topped with a plethora of toppings including; olives, bell peppers, sausage, pepperoni, ham, bacon, mushrooms, onion, and mozzarella cheese. She felt this pizza was flavorful and delicious. She liked the light and fluffy crust, and would definitely get this pizza again when we come here.


Rob really wanted to spice things up at Zito's, so he selected the Spicy Buffalo Chicken Pizza ($8.49). This chicken wing inspired pie was topped with garlic, cilantro, red onion, mozzarella, and chicken breast that is coated with a spicy buffalo sauce and blue cheese. Rob liked this pizza, but was not in love with it. He felt it had a decent amount of heat, but it did not overwhelm.


Our last pizza of the night belonged to Rob's lovely wife, Julie. She got Zito's Famous Alfredo Pizza ($8.49). This pizza uses Alfredo sauce instead of the usual red sauce. It also came topped with Italian sausage, onions, basil, and mozzarella cheese. From where I was sitting, this looked like the most balanced pizza of the night, and the one I would probably get on my next visit here. She finished only three of the slices, but Rob helped her out with the fourth one. What a caring guy.

The menu at Zito's claims, "this is the best pizza you will ever taste", and while that is not true for any of the four of us on this night, this is a pretty solid place to chow down on some pretty good pizzas. It kind of reminded me of the pizza parlors we would go to as a kid after my dad's softball games. Independent pizzerias that used plenty of toppings and cheese, and woke up my taste buds at an early age. I would not hesitate to come back to any of the Zito's location in the future. The service we experienced this night was pretty good, even though we had limited interaction with their employees. They were pretty quick about clearing tables though, which was nice since there was almost always a new customer to fill the empty seat. The prices were not exorbitantly high here, and you will leave here pretty full, even if you just have a personal pizza. Zito's was a really good place to catch up with our old friends Rob and Julie. Glad technology has helped us keep in touch.

Out of five frozen dinners, (because the name Zito comes from the Italian word Zitu, which means young bachelor, and bachelors practically live on frozen meals), five being best to zero being worst, Zito's Pizza gets 3 frozen meals.

For more information on Zito's Pizza, go to their website here: http://www.zitospizza.com/subindex.html

Zito's Pizza on Urbanspoon

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