Zeppoli Enchants With Soul-Satisfying Sicilian Fare
On a recent Monday evening, I ventured over to Collingswood to check out Zeppoli, a restaurant that has been on my radar screen due to the many accolades it has received. As I walked in, I noticed that the place was packed, even on a weeknight. As I dug into a deeply satisfying meal, I realized that the fuss everyone has been making over the restaurant is richly deserved
The design of the restaurant and menu are simple and straightforward. It’s clear that the chef concentrates on a carefully crafted selection of dishes with a Sicilian bent. Our party of three started out with two dishes to share. The Gamberetti e Fagioli consisted of garlic heads-on shrimp with white beans, lemon, parsley and chili. The creaminess of the cannellini beans contrasted beautifully with the shrimp, and the garlic and chili gave the dish a bit of zippity-do-dah without being overpowering. We also shared an organic mixed greens salad with a lemon-fennel vinaigrette. As soon as I bit into the greens, I knew immediately that the chef had sourced them locally (perhaps at the Collingswood farmer’s market). They tasted like they had just been plucked from the garden.
For my main course, I chose the Gnocchi alla’ Argeneteria, which was a light and delicious dish topped with Caciocavallo, a Sicilian cheese.
They were some of the lightest gnocchi that I have ever had, with spinach and ricotta rather than potato as the filling. My dining companions chose a pumpkin ravioli special which was rich and satisfying. One of the great options at Zeppoli is that you can chose either a full size pasta or a smaller appetizer-sized portion, so you can combine pasta with an entrée or perhaps even try two different pastas.
We decided that dessert was splurge-worthy, and gave it a go at trying and sharing three different dishes. The Cannoli Classico was just that: a classic Italian cannoli with a rich and creamy filling. We also enjoyed the Crostata Limone, which was presented artfully with a scattering of pistachios and a bright and zesty lemon filling. My favorite dessert of all was the Zeppoli Siciliano, a lightly fried puff of dough dusted with sugar and oozing with chocolate. I. could. have. eaten. every. last. bite. Fortunately, my dining companions saved me from myself and shared the zeppoli wealth.
Zeppoli’s chef, Joey Baldino, really knows how to deliver the goods. It’s easy to see why Bon Appetit magazine included the restaurant on the list of top 50 best new restaurants in 2012. Try it yourself, and you’ll discover simple Sicilian cooking with a modern flair at its best.
Beth Christian subsisted primarily on cheeseburgers and liverwurst sandwiches during childhood and refused to try most new foods. Her culinary horizons were expanded during her college days in Schenectady, New York, where she learned the joys of trying slow-simmered Italian dishes, Szechuan cuisine, and everything in between. When not engaged in the practice of law in Monmouth County, Beth is busy scouting out interesting restaurants, farmer’s markets and food purveyors near her home in Burlington County. Beth’s primary dining sidekick is her husband John, but she also enjoys having her daughter Meghan, son Michael and her wonderful friends come along for the ride. Email Beth at BChristian@JerseyBites.com.