First Impressions visits dining spots in the region that are new or have undergone recent transitions. Have a candidate for First Impressions? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1401 O St. Suite A, Sacramento; (916) 441-3354, www.ziasdeli.com
Hours: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Mondays- Fridays, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays
A staple Italian deli of downtown Davis has found a second home in Sacramento. Zia's Delicatessen is tucked near 14th and O streets in a gulch of restaurants that includes Yellowbill Cafe and Bakery, Bistro Michel and Curry Club Indian Bistro. Along with serving sandwiches, Zia's is a full-service deli where all meats, cheeses and other items can be purchased by the pound.
This Zia's location opened in late 2012, and on a recent visit looked to be well-trafficked by workers from the nearby Capitol and other government offices. Think of it like midtown's Italian Importing Co., but smaller and geared toward the bureaucratic set.
Menu: Deli sandwiches with Italian influences are the focus here. Speciality sandwiches include the tangy Toscana with salami, provolone cheese and pepperoncini, and the Roma with turkey and marinated artichokes. Also plan for grilled panini, a meatball sandwich with marinara sauce and other hot sandwiches.
You can even build your own sandwich with such ingredients as prosciutto (domestic or Italian), mortadella, pastrami and salami. For those who need to hurry back to the cubicle, look for grab-and-go items including salads, salami chubs and prosciutto-wrapped mozzarella.
Zia's also carries a selection of Italian cooking products. If you're thinking of cooking a little Italian feast after work, Zia's offers Italian pastas, olive oils, vinegars and more.
Price point: $5.50 for a "create your own" sandwich; speciality sandwiches run $6 to $6.95.
Ambiance: We heard that lines during lunch rush can be formidable, but we had little problem stepping up to the counter and placing an order. The compact dining room features high ceilings with long, hanging light fixtures. It's not a warm feel like Mama's dining room, but geared toward wolfing down a quick lunch at tables or counter stools and then getting back in time for a 1 p.m. staff meeting.
Drinks: No alcohol. Beverage options include San Pellegrino sparkling juices and water, plus other sodas and juice. Espresso drinks are also available.
Service: Place your order at the counter, pay at the register and wait for your order. We goofed by missing the "order here" sign and went straight to the register to place an order. Otherwise, service was prompt and amiable.
First impressions: Mama mia, now that's a good sandwich! We started with the straightforward yet tasty Toscana, which was served on an impeccably soft French roll. Paired with a side salad of mozzarella, grape tomatoes, basil and olive oil, this was a tangy and fresh combination that satiated yet didn't risk a food coma.
We also sampled a vegetarian panini with grilled eggplant. While the heft of this sandwich and its warm bread was appreciated, the combination of arugula, tomato and a homemade spread of sun-dried tomato and jalapeño was too busy on the taste buds.
Plenty of other sandwiches looked tempting on the menu, including the three-meatball sandwich and the Milano with its core of mortadella, salami and Muenster cheese. Next time we'll also sample some delicious-looking desserts that feature gelato imported from Milan.
Try it if: You're craving an Italian-inspired sandwich or other deli fixin's during lunch break.
Forget it if: You're looking for a swanky place for a power lunch or a restaurant with table service.
Call The Bee's Chris Macias (916) 321-1253. Follow him on Twitter @chris_macias.