Eglinton Street has many long serving restaurants to choose from, such as Maxwells and the Cellar Bar. Newer, more exotic, places such as Tomodachi Sushi Bar have lately increased the wealth of choice in the area. Zappi's, set in the sizable building that you may remember as Decobakes, is the newest of these dining options. Gone are the overpriced fondant icing and cupcake wrappers, in their place neat, red, banquette seating and blonde wood tables topped with terracotta pots of basil. This casual diner serves a wide range of traditional dishes, specialising in pizza, pasta, gelato, and classic Italian wines. Zappi's is a pleasant surprise and you get much more than you expect, many of the staff are Italian, further adding to the authentic vibe.
Zappi's is in a busy strip of Galway, the outside is painted white, inside is a long room with tables lined up like train seats. As if to prove its Galwegian identity, the walls are covered in local scenes such as The Long Walk and the iconic Galway Arts Festival tent. The menu is divided into sandwiches, soup and salads, pizza, and pasta dishes. The sandwiches too are locally monikered, The Claddagh is a chicken fillet on sourdough or ciabatta, Blackrock a tuna with mozzarella. Affordable wines and prosecco are on tap and available by the glass, 500ml or 750ml carafe, with a couple of beer options too.
The ordering system is unique to Galway — you place your order at the open food counters, where your server swipes your own personal card on the till to register the order. You then simply pay on the way out, making this system ideal for groups and splitting bills, although table service is still available to those who prefer it. There is good pizza with puffy brown crusts smelling delightful as they slide out of the oven at the back of the restaurant, priced in and around €10.50. But there are so many alluring pasta dishes for about €9 on the menu that you may well head down a different path. Choose from penne, fusilli, tagliatelle, or spaghetti pasta, then add the sauce of your choosing.
Desserts are not forgotten about — cannoli traditionale are €1 and can be ordered with good Lavazza coffee. Zappi’s gelato can be ordered in a cone or tub, one scoop is €2.80 or two for €5, flavors include orange split, crunchy caramel, or Kinder Bueno. Milkshakes, tiramisu, and traditional Italian style cheesecake can also be enjoyed.
Zappi's is the best kind of place, a hardworking unpretentious Italian where everyone is relaxed because everyone knows what they are doing. They do not over promise or under deliver in the making of the meals, the experienced team of chefs expertly incorporate the fundamentals of Italian cuisine with special care so that you can enjoy the best of Italy with a strong Galway accent. It is very much a family kind of place, as it should be, and children are very much included as is the Italian way. If you like authenticity in food, good-quality ingredients and simple cooking that brings the qualities of those ingredients to the fore, then you will like Zappi's.
Zappi's Restaurant, 18 Eglinton Street, Galway, phone (091 ) 565 425.