Sitting at one of the linen-covered tables at Zio Tot? has asurprisingly calming effect on diners. The worn-red brick walls andopen-air pizza kitchen add warmth to the single room so that whenyou browse the menu, you’re ready to order a whole lot of food, notonly for the delicious-sounding ingredients but also because youthink you can actually eat it all.
Even if you can’t, though, it’s worth a try.
The dishes at Zio Totó exude the classically Italianless-is-more philosophy, relying on a few, high-qualityingredients, each of which can be savored on its own as well as asa part of the whole.
The Pizza Margherita Classica ($10 for a 12-inch pie) highlightsbrightly flavored tomato sauce, homemade mozzarella and asprinkling of basil leaves on a thin, crispy crust baked in awood-fired oven. There are 13 topping combinations to choose from,so feel free to try them all.
Of the pastas, our first recommendation is the Orecchiette allaBarese ($15), which exemplifies the fresh, distinctive approachthat characterizes the best Italian cooking. The dish – combiningear shaped pasta with chunks of sausage, sautéed broccoli rabe,slices of garlic and olive oil – is a symphony of flavors, noneovershadowing any of the others but resulting in a finished dishthat is harmonious and addictive.
Also a feast for the eyes and mouth is the Linguine alla MareMonte ($17) which features four sautéed shrimp around a pile ofperfectly al dente linguine tossed with shitake mushrooms, arugula,grape tomatoes, spinach and a light tomato sauce to present abrightly delicious pasta dish that lights up any meal.
Entrees at Zio Tot? range from beef, pork and numerous chickendishes to their signature seafood and veal dishes. Of the chickenoptions, the Pollo Principessa ($17) was supremely satisfying. Twochicken cutlets provide the savory base for slices of prosciutto,spears of asparagus and melted mozzarella, all enhanced by a richbrown sauce.
The fish of the day, which changes depending on the season andthe catch, is also an entrée where you can’t go wrong. When we werethere, it was branzino (also known as European or Mediterraneanseabass), which came lightly grilled next to a bed of grilledzucchini, carrots and asparagus. Firm yet flaky, the fish isdelicious, whether or not you squeeze on juice from theaccompanying lemon.
All diners get to sample the restaurant’s rosemary-studdedfocaccia, thin and crispy slices of oven-fresh bread brought outwhile you wait for your main dish to arrive. Also on every table isa bowl of green Sicilian olives, tart and crispy, and enhanced by asprinkle of oregano and fresh vegetables – a Zio Totóspecialty.
It’s also worth sinking your teeth into one of the stuffedfocaccia sandwiches ($12 to $15), antipasti ($10 to $16) andinsalate (salads, $8 to $12). Then, end the meal with one of fourdesserts: chocolate mousse, Italian cheesecake, Tiramisu (each $6)or Zio Tot?’s popular Nutella Paradise ($14) – sweet focaccia breadwith chocolate hazelnut spread and strawberries, topped with ascoop of ice cream.
So drop by Zio Tot?, named after Salvatore Giuffre, aka UncleSal, father of co-owners Giuseppe and Filippo Giuffre, for dinneror for a lunch special – choose from the $13.95 three-course meal(with coffee or soda), the $10 pasta and soda or the $9 paninilunch special — and enjoy a little slice of true Sicilian cookingin Brooklyn.
8407 Third Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11209
Open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Free delivery until 10 p.m.