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Central Food 2

Field Trip to Zaffino’s

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Zaffino’s in Sherwood is a 22-minute drive from my house in the middle of Little Rock. I think we can all agree this is not exactly far, but a relaxing drive to pick up fantastic Italian food kind of feels like a Spring Break vacation during these crazy times.

Zaffino’s has been cranking out Italian food classics for more than 20 years. The menu is dotted with items like Fettucine Alfredo, Veal Piccata, Chicken Cacciatore, and Shrimp Diavolo. And while food is typically served in a warm and inviting neighborhood atmosphere, curbside is currently king, and a to-go order would have to suffice for now. Knowing that pasta travels well, and it had been a year since my last visit, I placed my order and headed to Sherwood.

The pick-up was as smooth and painless as the traffic-free late Saturday afternoon drive to get to the restaurant. The most difficult part was the drive home. Smelling the haunting aromas of fresh basil and garlic is enough to drive a man crazy. I ordered way too much food for my family of four. Our spread consisted of Cheese Ravioli, Veal Valdastano, Chicken Parmesan, and Italian Sausage and Mushrooms, the latter of which is my absolute favorite dish from Zaffino’s. Penne pasta tossed with Italian sausage and quartered button mushrooms is drenched in a sweet Marsala and basil cream sauce. Make sure to get a chunk of Italian sausage and mushroom with each bite of pasta. The sweetness of the sauce combined with the subtle heat of the crushed red pepper flakes makes this dish the star of the menu.

Not to be outdone, the straightforward, well-executed Cheese Ravioli highlights inclusion of both Pomodoro and Alfredo sauce, displayed side-by-side. Count me as a fan of having a red and white sauce on one dish. As dishes go at Zaffino’s, the Veal Valdastano feels somewhat fancy. The pan-seared, thin veal cutlets are as tender as can be, and come swimming in a buttery, rich Marsala wine reduction. A layer of prosciutto adds saltiness to the equation, creating an overall well-balanced dish that pairs perfectly with a side of Alfredo pasta. And let us not forget about the ever-popular Chicken Parmesan, a thick slab of fried chicken breast covered in red sauce, a thin layer of mozzarella, and a heavy hand of grated Parmesan. It was also a hit.

Truth be told, everything was a hit, and although the current to-go pictures do not properly capture the beauty of Zaffino’s food, I can promise you the taste will not disappoint.

Did You Know?

Zaffino’s is currently offering family-style meals (feeds 4-6) for $45, including Baked Penne Bolognese, Tortellini con Funghi, and Baked Penne Pasta with Meatballs. They also have an Italian Platter for Two ($39) which includes some of their most popular dishes: Chicken Cannelloni, Spinach, Manicotti, and Beef Lasagna

Zaffino’s by Nori
2001 E Kiehl Ave (Sherwood)
Phone: 501-834-7530
Current Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Closed Sunday & Monday

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Kevin Shalin is a food writer living in Little Rock with his wife, Sara, and two daughters, Natalie (12) and Sydney (7). He started his own blog, The Mighty Rib, seven years ago while living in Houston. Six months later, he began writing for Eating Our Words, a Houston Press food blog. After a year in Boston, he moved to Little Rock, where he’s been for almost five years. During that time, he’s written for Little Rock Soiree, Rock City Eats, Treatsie, and Bourbon and Boots.

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2 responses to “Field Trip to Zaffino’s”

  1. Sheila Hogan says:

    When everything opens back up you must go to Zaffinos, if not for the food(which is great) but for the chance to meet Nori. Nori is a little redhead Italian spit fire that never meets a stranger. She makes you feel like a long lost family member that is welcome to come stay in her home, drink her wine and enjoy her company! Make a reservation to see what you are missing.

  2. Jason Killins says:

    Excellent article. Thanks for sharing! They are also my favorite gluten free Italian restaurant destination! -Jason Killins, Gluten Free Foodies of Arkansas

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