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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    “Zona 78 offers tasty entrees, drab desserts”

    Pizza and beer make a classic combination. Now imagine that combined with a relaxing restaurant setting with pasta, salads and more thrown into the mix.

    That, ladies and gentlemen, is Zona 78, a Tucson restaurant that has been making great food and fresh mozzarella in Tucson long enough to make a name for itself. Zona 78 — the name comes from the Italian word for location or area, “”zona,”” and its address on River Road, 78 — is a moderately priced place to chill out during lunch, after school or on the weekends.

    The freshly baked bread and homemade mozzarella — along with stone-fired thin crust pizza and fresh homemade lemonade — make Zona 78 irresistibly good. Zona 78 offers great deals like any pizza and a pint of beer for $12 or happy hour specials that are offered Monday through Saturday from 3 to 6 p.m. Happy hour includes half-price appetizers and selected cocktails, $5 glasses of wine, $2 draft beers and 30 percent off bottles of wine to go. When you take into account these great deals, it’s easy to justify the 15-to-20 minute jaunt off campus.

    Zone 78’s homemade mozzarella is its biggest draw; the creamy, mild cheese really makes its pizzas. If you’re in the mood for a lighter meal, the tomato and mozzarella salad ($10.50) is the choice to make. The portion is generous and filling but won’t push you over the “”why did I eat all that food?”” edge.

    Zona 78’s pizza is another great choice. Whether you’re hungry enough to knock out a whole pie or intend to share, it’s well worth it. Pizzas range from about $10 to $13, with the exception of the build-your-own, which varies based on the number of toppings you choose.

    The most popular pizza — for good reason — is the Tuscany, which boasts sausage, mozzarella, olives, roasted garlic, basil, fennel, caramelized onions and mushrooms all on top of the rustic sauce. The sauce is to die for: perfectly seasoned, sweet and tangy, it perfects the pizza and pasta dishes. The spaghetti is another fantastic option, though if you’re not into meat sauce, be sure to specify you’d like regular sauce when you order it.

    The chicken parmesan is another killer dish. Tender, lightly breaded chicken with pasta — who could be disappointed with that?

    That said, there is one essential area in which Zona 78 is lacking: dessert. While its dessert menu is decent and offers five traditional Italian options, nothing on the menu is really worthy of a “”wow!”” Zona 78 used to offer an apple caramel tart that was one of the greatest desserts I’d ever had, but since its removal the dessert menu has fallen flat.

    Ironically, if you look at the top, right-hand corner of the Zona 78 dessert page of the restaurant’s Web site you can see the long-gone apple dessert, leaving you all the more disappointed that it is no longer offered.

    The current dessert menu is drab. The tiramisu seems a good option, but with the espresso being poured onto the dessert table-side, the ladyfingers don’t have time to absorb the flavor. As a result, the tiramisu is a bit dry and nothing to write home about.

    Even with a dull dessert menu, Zona 78 offers great Italian food at a moderate price.

    Despite being a touch more distant than some restaurants in the UA area, Zona 78 is still a fantastic lunch or dinner spot well worth checking out.

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