Cafe Zazzle still dazzles in Petaluma with unusual menu
Where: 121 Kentucky St.
For a restaurant to earn staying power in Petaluma, it has to be good, or at least offer something different than any other spot in town. Since opening on Kentucky Street in the early 2000s, in the space long occupied by Polly Ann Bakery, Café Zazzle has yet to disappoint. Its wild mixture of cuisines, which incorporates Asian fusion alongside Italian and Southwestern flavors, means there’s plenty to try that can’t be found elsewhere.
It’s possible the business’s own website says it best: “According to Roget’s Thesaurus there are five synonyms found for zazzle: appetite, hankering, hunger, longing and penchant. We hope to satisfy all of our customers’ zazzle-like needs with our diverse menu.”
Where else in town can you start your meal with a quesadilla ($8.95) or a cup of miso soup ($4.10) with mushrooms, green onions and tofu? Diners can then move on to a selection of noodles, from hearty udon soups ($12-$15) to angel hair pasta with fresh tomatoes and basil ($12.20) or beef fajitas with noodles ($13.75). Then there’s the wraps, which range from Asian-inspired like the lettuce wraps with coconut and Thai spices ($11.50), to the barbecue pork with jack cheese and red onions ($14).
On a recent visit, we began our meal with the edamame Zazzle-style ($4.95), a sweet and spicy upgrade to the traditionally plain appetizer. The sticky glaze is packed with garlic and provides a pleasant punch of flavor to the palate. One word to the wise: order extra napkins. You will need them, these things are messy. But so tasty, you might find yourself licking your fingers clean.
The Veggie Delight Noodle Bowl ($12.20) is possibly the biggest bowl of soup in Petaluma. It comes with a load of perfectly crisp Asian-inspired vegetables, including snow peas, baby bok choy and shiitake mushrooms. Bright in color and taste, the vegetables provide a satisfyingly crunchy bite alongside the tender buckwheat soba noodles. The broth is lightly fragranced with ginger, garlic and basil, but could stand a punch of heat. That’s why the soup is served with a choice of hot sauces, from Sriracha to Tapatio, which provided the needed boost in flavor. With the cold weather settling in, this deep bowl of steaming soup will keep the winter chills at bay.
The Apricot Curry Wrap ($12.75) manages to build appetizing layers thanks to the sweet yet savory sauce. It comes with a choice of prawns ($6.20), tri-tip ($4.40), chicken ($3.60), tofu ($1.50) or avocado ($1.55). The chicken was marinated and grilled in the tangy sauce, building a solid foundation of flavor. The tomato tortilla was then piled up with jack cheese, mixed greens and vegetables, and slathered in an apricot aioli. The server asked if we wanted extra sauce for dipping, and that was the right move. That delightfully orange-toned sauce is unlike anything else we’ve come across in Petaluma, and elevated the dish from good to delectable.
The wrap was served with the Zazzle slaw, which also comes as an appetizer ($4.35). As the menu declares, “This is not a deli-style slaw.” While it features creamy notes, it is enhanced with a fruity tang that makes the shredded cabbage and jicama sing.
Do not skip dessert while dining at Café Zazzle. The house-made treats are decadent and sumptuous, but well portioned so as not to overwhelm the diner. Like the main menu, options are inspired by a wide range of culinary influences. The key lime pie ($6.50) is a tart nod to the American South, the crème caramel ($6) is an Italian-style custard, and the honey baked apple ($6.50) with a port wine reduction offers a taste of France.
While the décor is nothing to write home about, the service at Zazzle is attentive and professional. The wide range of menu items will be pleasing to picky eaters, including those who are vegan and gluten-free. If you’re stopping by on a weekday for lunch, come early or late. Right around noon, the restaurant is often packed with diners who work downtown and have made Zazzle a staple in their week.
Where: 121 Kentucky St.