21 January, 2022, 02:02

Zona 78 Adds 15 New Dishes; Increases Focus on Happy Hour

Eastside eatery Zona 78 has expanded their lunch, dinner, and cocktail menus with one of the largest seasonal updates yet by adding over 15 new dishes and 7 new cocktails.

Rather than replacing existing items, they decided to increase menu size by over 30 percent instead, said manager Luke Witman. The existing items already have a loyal following, but expansion was needed to keep things adventurous.

Happy hour is one of Zona 78’s strongest points, so it received most of the attention with the changes.

“We have consistently been one of the best happy hours in town and want to keep it that way with all of the new places downtown,” said Executive Chef Keith Parker.

New Menu Item Highlights
  • Arancini with Cilantro Pesto ($12 half-off at happy hour)
  • Meatball Sliders ($12, half-off at happy hour)
  • Mussels and Sausage ($10)
  • House-made Burrata ($12)
  • Danish Blue Pizza ($14)
  • Pineapple and House-made Speck Pizza ($14)
  • Pasta Milano ($14)
  • Pasta Carbonara ($15)
  • New York Strip Steak with Baked Potato and Broccolini ($24)
  • Veal Scallopini ($21)
Meatball Sliders and Prickly Pear Picnic cocktail at Zona 78 (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Meatball Sliders and Prickly Pear Picnic cocktail at Zona 78 (Credit: Jackie Tran)

“The most popular items have been the Meatball Sliders and the Arancini,” Parker said. “People love them as a shared app and they are very well priced which is obviously a bonus to our customer base.”

Even though the items such as the Meatball Sliders are unassuming, the quality of ingredients and level of craft involved is immediately noticeable upon the first bite.

Current purveyors include Fiore di Capra, Sleeping Frog Farms, Sun-Rise Baking Company, Bakehouse Bread Company, and Five Sons Ranch. House-made items also continue to be a point of emphasis, so items with cheese such as ricotta are mozzarella immediately stand out.

“We also make our own gluten-free pasta, pickles and jams for our antipasti, stuffed pasta specials, and currently are smoking spare ribs for Sundays during football season,” Parker said. “Essentially we live and work by the motto of ‘if we can make it, we make it in house.'”

The house-made Burrata features the soft, creamy cheese with heirloom tomatoes that pack more flavor than anything you’ll find in the supermarket.

Burrata appetizer and Orange Spritz cocktail at Zona 78 (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Burrata appetizer and Orange Spritz cocktail at Zona 78 (Credit: Jackie Tran)

The heirloom tomatoes are the star in the Heirloom Tomato & Mozzarella Salad, while the mozzarella makes a secondary appearance in the lunchtime-exclusive Italian Sub.

For a bite of their house-cured meat, order the Pasta Carbonara. Zona-pancetta stars alongside white onion, peas, and spaghetti. The Mussels and Sausage features Zona-made sausage, fennel, white wine broth, and grilled ciabatta.

Mussels and Sausage at Zona 78 (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Mussels and Sausage at Zona 78 (Credit: Jackie Tran)

New cocktails include distinctly Italian choices such as the Orange Spritz with amaro, sweet vermouth, prosecco, orange, and rosemary along with more experimental options such as the Smoke and Spice with rye whiskey, serrano pepper, and smoked ice.

For more information, visit zona78.com.

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Jackie is a food writer and photographer native to Tucson. He loves corgis and still thinks rickrolling is funny. If you'd like to stalk him, visit jackietran.com and his Instagram @jackie_tran_.