The Upper East Side Scene \r
Despite the forecast for this upcoming week (cloudy, rainy, low 60s), spring is here, which means it?s the best time to take advantage of the city?s many outdoor dining options. This is just what I did last week when my parents came in for dinner and we discovered an Italian restaurant on the UES with what is definitely one of the larger garden seating areas I?ve seen in our neighborhood. Located on 1st Ave. between 65th and 66th Streets, Za Za?s outward appearance is deceptive. Hidden beneath a red awning, the restaurant?s tiny storefront lets on that there is an outdoor garden only via a chalkboard sign propped out front. Yet through the warmly decorated dining room, with its yellow walls, orange sconces, and colorful murals, is a large Tuscan-style garden that seats nearly forty patrons, a lovely surprise on one of the first spring evenings of the year. Pleased with our discovery, my parents and I settled in to look over Za Za?s fairly large, Florence-inspired menu. Full of Italian pastas and sauces, as well as an ample amount of seafood, the selection, including the long list of specials our waiter recited to us, was a bit overwhelming. But, after sending our waiter away twice because we hadn?t yet made up our minds, we finally made our decisions. For an appetizer, we ordered bruschetta with tomato, basil, and mozzarella. My mom and I chose the same entree, fettucine with shrimp and white mushrooms in a tomato cream sauce, while my dad chose the tagliolini pasta with smoked salmon in a vodka sauce. Apparently Za Za?s garden was a new discovery only for us that evening, as it proved quite a popular place. Brown picket fences, wicker chairs, and umbrella-covered tables strung with colored lanterns made eating in the garden feel as though we were not in the city but on vacation somewhere in the Italian countryside. Combined with friendly service and meals that turned out to be delicious, Za Za was quite a nice surprise.