Richard Cranmer and his wife Najiya opened Zinicola in Ballantyne in 2017. The name Zinicola is taken from Chef Cranmer's mother's maiden name, and family heritage is central to the restaurant's mission. Growing up, Cranmer would take summer trips to visit his Nonna in Italy, and she continues to inspire his cuisine today. We were invited out in earlier in August to sample their menu and hear more about their commitment to chef-driven and authentic Italian cuisine.
All of Zinicola's food is made fresh and in-house, including their pasta and pizzas. We particularly loved the Parmesan basket that the risotto was served in, and the creativity that went into the heirloom tomato salad.
tomato jam, parmigiana gel, arugula
Heirloom Tomato Salad
tomato cannellini, black tomato sauce, basil
The cannellini was made with a tomato gel instead of pasta--so cool!
black risotto, saffron emulsion
swordfish, mint, garlic, tomato, white wine
parmigiana basket, Italian sausage, mushrooms
Rice in a Parmesean basket? Sign us up.
beef mushroom ricotta, wrapped in duck prosciutto, sage butter sauce
Hands down, our favorite pasta of the night.
Eggplant Wrapped Grouper
cannellini bean sauce, clams
eggplant puree, rosemary potato cake, zucchini, mint gel
The lamb was tender and flavorful, and the potato cake cured any lingering carb needs that remained after all that pasta!
Do not sleep on Zinicola's dessert. This baby was my favorite dish of the evening.
Pistachio Nutella Mascarpone
Bonus: this was gluten-free!
The wine menu and creative cocktail selection are finely curated. As your server for pairing suggestions.
Zinicola is upscale, and the white tablecloths and candles will elevate your night out into a special occasion. There were plenty of couples on dates when we dined, but there were also a lot of families. The patio is busy on cooler nights, and this is where to sit for a more casual vibe. The bar is open to both the inside of the restaurant and the outside patio, so you have easy access to the fabulous cocktails pictured above.
The Cranmers are such a fun couple, and they provide fine dining in an atmosphere that makes you feel right at home. We were well-fed and provided with everything we needed on this visit, and we can't wait to go back on our own soon.
Even a pug would drive to Ballantyne for food this good; They served us so many drinks that we needed a DD at the end of the night; All carbs should come in a cheese basket; Jason claims to not like cheesecake or cream cheese, but when it comes to dessert, he abandons all previously professed reservations; Chef Cranmer and his wife are pod listeners who say they bicker as much as we do--should we have a kvetch off?!
Disclaimer: This meal was provided free of charge in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. All opinions are our own, and we were not compensated for this review.