Went to Za in Pennington last night with some friends and had a nice experience. Although we had the option of dining on the patio, it was a bit chilly and we opted for the dining room (which is really quite tiny). We started off with a gnocchi appetizer that was basically about five good-sized gnocchi topped with goat cheese and served in a gorgonzola sauce. It was delicious and the gnocchi were light and airy – wish there was an actual entrée that featured them, actually. Although the goat cheese was a tasty addition, I think it might have been unnecessary as there were plenty of flavors without it (and goat cheese can be more than a bit overwhelming). I had a very nice iced tea and my one friend had the ginger soda, which she really liked. It was definitely different and interesting, she said.
Everyone loved their entrees – there was not a scrap left on anyone’s plate. I had the barbecued pork chop with mashed potatoes and asparagus. The pork chop was very tender and the barbecue sauce had a nice kick to it. The mashed potatoes were delicious, although, once again, the crisp bacon bits sprinkled over top of them might have been overkill. The asparagus was tasty. One friend was delighted with her monkfish dish, and said that she particularly enjoyed the light citrus sauce that flavored it. The other had the tuna with wasabi mashed potatoes. The tuna was perfect – I don’t like fish of any kind, and I actually kind of wished I had ordered the dish for myself after tasting it. However, the wasabi mashed potatoes were not my cup of tea – I felt like the wasabi drowned out potatoes. My two friends are big sushi fans though, and they really liked the extra kick to the potatoes.
We finished up with coffee and dessert. I didn’t try my one friend’s cannoli (not the type of thing that shares well, but she did enjoy it), but I did take a bit of my other friend’s crème brulee. It was a large serving that was perfectly executed (sooo light), but I’m not a fan of amaretto (which was the dominant flavoring), so I would not have ordered it for myself. My chocolate mousse pie was very light and a nice dessert, but not terribly exciting. I kind of wish we had ordered the chocolate soufflé with our entrees, because the one that came out to another table looked and smelled heavenly. The caramel French vanilla coffee was wonderful, and came in a nice large cup.
The staff was attentive, friendly and knowledgeable. Our only complaint was the long wait between our appetizer and the entrees – with no salad or breads on the table, we really noticed the gap. Overall, we really enjoyed the meal, and we are looking forward to going back for their teatime menu.