Zov, what can I say about such an amazing woman? Author of two books, chef, and restaurant entrepreneur. I love family based restaurants, they make for amazing stories. The heart, mind, and soul of a restaurant comes from its base, and this venue has warm roots with strong family values. She opened her first restaurant in 1987, and her current chain of restaurants has locations in Tustin, Newport Coast, Irvine, one in John Wayne Airport, and now Anaheim.
Designed by Charles Ramm, (who also designed Nick’s on Second in Long Beach) this location blends three distinct atmospheres: a modern bar, a cozy outdoor setting, and a family-style dining room. A venue that has this structural edge over its competitors is sure to thrive.
To begin, the outdoor patio has a nice city feel to it. With the rush of traffic flying by, right on the corner of Katella and State College, it has a “San Fransisco” kind of feel, in the words of Armen Karamardian (VP of operations for the family business). It also has these huge open flame heaters, similar to ECCO in Costa Mesa. Not only are the chairs outside comfortable, but there were three waterproof TVs! (Yes, I know, I had to ask).
Walking inside, you will be greeted by the hosting table, and right behind that an open feeling, contemporary bar with a large TV. There is some booth seating around the outside of the bar where I could imagine sports fan’s wearing their team’s jersey, to people who just got out of work, still wearing button up shirts, sleeves rolled up. With amazing beers on tap, and signature cocktails, this bar is a perfect stop for anybody.
Walking into the dining area, it had a warm feel to it. A little dimmer than the bar area, with wooden tables, I felt like it should have had a fireplace. These three rooms gave a perfect blend of patio, family room, and dining room.
I brought my Melon mule to the dining area, awaiting the meal. This melon mule was amazing. It was very sweet, but it did not have that sticky sweetness to it that many people steer away from and order skinny versions. Made with Grey Goose Melon vodka, fresh lime juice, and ginger beer, it is garnished with a lime in a copper cup. The lime creates an interesting kick that smooths out the sweet flavor.
If you are fortunate enough to have Marcus as your server, you will know the history of the cuisine offered. Not only was he well versed in the drinks, but the food too. You know you are at a great restaurant when the servers are intelligent, interesting, and timely
I will start with the triple peppered deviled eggs: the three peppers were toasted urfa pepper, a red pepper sauce, and aleppo peppers. Marcus was gracious enough to inform me that these aleppo peppers were made famous by the city of Aleppo, a town in Syria that was once along the silk road. This deviled egg was not too spicy, it did not have that sulfuric taste, it was actually quite refreshing.
The next appetizer served was a fried cauliflower. I was expecting that strong smell of cauliflower and too much breading, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that the cauliflower was expertly breaded, not too breaded at all actually, and it did not need it. With roasted pepper aioli, it was on the edge of spicy. It was tasty and filling. It was a similar experience to eating fish, without that fishy taste. It was spectacular! I never thought I would enjoy cauliflower.
After that wonderful adventure, out came the lamb meatballs. This is more of my cup of tea. Made with kashkaval cheese and served with pita bread, it was filling and delicious. I didn’t know what kashkaval cheese was either, so Marcus informed me that kashkaval is an Armenian goat cheese. The spicy tomato sauce was a perfect dip for the pita triangles. Overall, this was the most filling appetizer and it was very satisfying.
There is this hip new trend everyone is falling into that Zov’s is at the top of my list for. No not just the mules, but brussel sprouts. They are flash fried with caper vinaigrette and pinot noir syrup. They were not too salty, not too oily, and they had an amazing flavor with a nice crunchy texture. But falling in line with Zov’s edgy feel, it was on the edge of crunchy, it was perfect. Mixed in was this amazing apple smoked bacon that added a heartiness and flavor that is unmatched anywhere I have had before. Bacon is an amazing type of food, but surprisingly hard to prepare correctly. This bacon was not too soft, it was not too burnt and crispy, and it also had that nice smokey flavor to it. I asked the wise Marcus, what kind of bacon this was? He informed me it is a Nueske brand of bacon. Nueske is a world famous meat company known for its applewood smoked meats. This was my favorite appetizer, and the best brussels sprouts I have ever eaten, and that is saying a lot. This alone is more than enough reason to try out Zov’s in Anaheim.
I finished my third Melon mule. They were refreshing and I cannot emphasize enough how perfect these mules are. If they were too sticky sweet, I could not have had more than two. After the amazing appetizers, I thought I had gone through the best part of the evening. I was about to be pleasantly surprised.
Call me old fashioned, but I like a nice glass of wine with dinner. And what better pairs with a peppercorn steak than a good strong cab. First Press it was, a bold cabernet sauvignon. From Napa Valley, it was a deep color and heavy bodied wine. Out came the peppercorn filet, an 8 oz filet with olive oil mashed potatoes, and seasonal vegetables (the carrots and asparagus was delicious!). I’ll start with the mashed potatoes. When I heard olive oil, I thought it would be too heavy or greasy for me. Like everything else, it was on the edge of oily without being sharp.It gave the hearty feel of the olive oil, without making you feel greasy afterwards. I cut into the peppercorn filet (medium rare of course) and it felt like I could have used my butter knife. This steak was amazing! You can marinate a steak or glaze it all you want, but if the steak inside isn’t right, it doesn’t matter what kind of fluffy stuff you add on to it. Chef Louie Jocson (on the edge of rare) perfects this cut. It was amazing! Juicy and smooth, buttery and flavorful. It did not feel stringy, it had a beautiful pink hue throughout, expertly prepared. I took a sip of the First Press to see how it matched. I now have a new criteria when critiquing steak: if the steak makes a good wine great, its an excellent steak. This steak was excellent! The peppercorn glaze blended perfectly with the soft texture of the filet. This was the crowning achievement of the night. At only 8 oz, it was filling, at only $33, it felt like a $60 steak. This steak wasn’t on the edge of the cliff named perfect, it was Wiley Coyoteing in perfection.
What an amazing atmosphere and staff. I thanked Marcus personally for such a wonderful experience. I spoke with the general manager Kevin Hall, a very gracious and amiable man. I always say, a venue is judged by its ambiance. The heart and soul of Zov’s comes from her warm, maternal feel. When you go to Zov’s, you feel right at home. From the servers, to the chef, to the managers, and the owner herself, this restaurant has an amazing feel, I am thankful I was able to try it, I will definitely return!
They sometimes say “look before you take the plunge”. Well I definitely advise you to take a look at Zov’s in Anaheim. You’ll find it on the edge of Katella and State College, go ahead, be adventurous, take a plunge, you won’t regret it. I promise.