ZaZaZa - Pizza with PizzazzPublished on July 3, 2012

  • Ion Aimers.

  • (Photo by Mark Holleron)

Pizza needs no introduction. A staple dish favoured by kids and grownups alike, it comes in many forms.

In Ottawa, we've traditionally been offered an abundance of thick-crusted, cheese-slathered pies, but for those who prefer a judiciously-topped, wafer-thin crust, the local options are not as plentiful. Thankfully, our pizza situation is improving, thanks to famed local restaurateur Ion Aimers and his growing chain, ZaZaZa, affectionately dubbed "pizza with pizzazz."

ZaZaZa's first location in New Edinburgh has earned a reputation for excellent food and friendly, attentive service. Ion is confident that the recent opening of his second location, on Bank Street in the Glebe, will introduce more Ottawans to a style of pizza which reflects his personal taste.

"I consciously set out to expand ZaZaZa in a similar fashion to the Works," said Ion, referring to the beloved burger empire he previously established in Ottawa. "I wanted to find another neighbourhood where people could walk to the restaurant, be comfortable inside and enjoy sharing a meal with friends or family."

The 60-seat Bank Street location is significantly larger than the Putman one, offering a greater opportunity to combine art, theatre and food, he explained. "With seats at the bar, the kitchen is really on stage, which I love since I consider my staff to be performers whose job is to make your visit fun as well as satisfying."

The same playful menu is offered at both locations, with appetizers like Goodness, Gracious, Goat Balls of Fire (tasty fried goat cheese and mushroom bites), and Strawberry Fields Forever (a flavourful berry-topped salad with balsamic vinaigrette). The list of pizzas is extensive but not overwhelming, with everything from traditional favourites like the Patient Paul (with pepperoni, mushrooms, onions, olives and peppers) to the more inventive California Caprese (topped with pesto, sliced tomato, bocconcini, fresh basil, avocado and balsamic drizzle).

From simple to sophisticated, there's something for every taste, with local and seasonal ingredients figuring prominently in the kitchen wherever possible. Not to be missed are the dessert pizzas with the same signature thin crust, but with a variety of sweet toppings including peanut butter and chocolate or nutella and berries.

ZaZaZa is at 143 Putman Avenue in New Edinburgh and 915 Bank Street in the Glebe.

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