My friend and I went to Zola’s in State College for dinner last week. It was my second time going there since it was re-opened under new management a few weeks ago. Zola, according to the website serves, ” a fresh take on new American cuisine.”
My friend and I were warmly greeted and escorted to a table. The restaurant is beautifully planned and designed. As you enter there is seating in the dining hall, another seating area to the front of the restaurant, the kitchen with busy chefs visible to patrons, and a partition behind which sits a bar. The tables, lighting and setting are very warm and well done. Due to the hardwood floors and hard surfaces, the space tends to be a bit noisier than one would think. They do have oval-shaped acoustic panels suspended to reduce the reverberation, but it’s still a bit loud. Beautiful artwork capturing natural scenes cover the walls.
View looking at the entry and front seating space
Paintings on wall in dining area with kitchen behind green wall on the right
The service was absolutely fantastic! That was my favorite thing about being at Zola. They were attentive, well-trained, and friendly.
After sitting, they came and filled our glasses with water. They then brought an amuse-bouche for us. Delish! I can’t remember what it was for our first visit, but for this most recent visit it was a homemade pickled zucchini amuse-bouche. Tasted great. A perfect bite! I forgot to take a photo of it unfortunately. After ordering our appetizers and entrees, they brought us bread while we waited for our meals to arrive. We had the choice of olive bread, focaccia bread, or I can’t remember the third, served with whipped butter.
For appetizers we had crispy frog-legs, the Asian calamari, and the seafood ceviche. See photos below.
Crispy frog legs, pickled vegetables, fried basil, smoked paprika appetizer
Frog-legs can be done several different ways. I had them for the first time in Singapore in 2012. They were very flavorful, hot, spicy and tasty. The meat and all that it came with at the hawker center in Singapore was finger-licking. This one at Zola, not so much. Of course this wasn’t an Asian preparation of it. For me, it was very bland. My palate tasted no seasoning in the frog. I love my meats to be well-seasoned. It was served with pickled cauliflower. That was tasty.
The Asian calamari was delectable! They were served with jalapenos – one of my favorite peppers and additions. The calamari was fried nicely, as were the jalapenos. The lime-sriracha aioli surrounding it was also very tasty. There was one surprise though. The greens on the plate (lettuce I assumed) were sooo tasty! A soy-vinaigrette that was refreshing, extremely palatable and tied all the flavors together nicely. Great job!
The third appetizer we had was the seafood ceviche. It was ok. I have had better. I did not find the citrus flavors to be strong enough. I like a ceviche with a very strong taste of citrus, cilantro, and a flavorful broth.
For entrees we had the wild Alaskan salmon and the crispy whole red snapper.
Wild Alaskan salmon and brussels sprouts on a celery root puree
The salmon was really delicious and remains my favorite meal at Zola. It is satisfying, beautiful, tasty, comforting, and again…delicious! The celery root puree is out of this world. Just go eat it! The brussels sprouts are not bitter, perfect texture and perfectly seasoned. 5 stars!
Crispy whole red snapper, red chili sauce with pineapple and peanut, and baby bok-choi
This meal is quite an excitement for the eyes. My palate, not so much. Again, for me the fish was not seasoned. The bok-choi was tough and chewy. I wasn’t impressed. Have the salmon.
I have had Zola’s macaroons, creme brulee, and cheesecake for dessert. I still feel that more can be expected from their dessert menu.
Macaron tasting – Great!
Passion fruit curd almond macaron, espresso caramel ganache almond macaron, and mixed berry jam pistachio macaron. The macarons were very great! Great flavors and texture. Win!
Creme brulee – great!
Ricotta cheesecake – Graham cracker crust, blueberry compote, and balsamic reduction
The cheesecake was very delicious. I don’t feel like the blueberry compote took the cheesecake to another level. I found it cloying, even though it was not overly sweet. I think adding some citrus to the compote would have been a good idea.
All in all my experience at Zola Kitchen and Wine Bar was really good! Service was PERFECT! Waiters were attentive with smiles on their faces. Our glasses were never empty. They gave recommendations and described our meals quite nicely. Service with friendly smiles. Great service always gets me.
- Food – GREAT (depends on your preferences for flavors and seasoning in food)
- Service – GREAT
- Ambiance – GREAT
Here’s a ink to the restaurant –http://www.zolakitchen.com
Have a great one!