In a New York minute
Zaza is bringing back the practical lasagna pizzaz.
SRQ Review | November 2021
Powerful couple and transplanted from big cities, Franco and Mia Gatto of Zaza Italian Comfort Food, settle into family life in Sarasota with their Classica and Verde catches. Photo taken by Wyatt Kostygan.
In the city of all the cities – one that’s home to over 26,000 restaurants and 8.4 million people – you never take for granted falling in love with that special person or place in New York City. Ergo, college lovers Mia and Franco Gatto never took for granted the first intimate dinners together at a romantic little Upper East Side Italian trattoria called “ZaZa”. “They had burrata imported from Italy on Wednesday, it was mind blowing,” says Mia. “The restaurant has been closed for years now, but it will always have a special place in our hearts. Especially since it’s also the name of our favorite idiot SNL sketch – if you haven’t seen it, look up SNL Lasagna!”
With a shared love for cooking and photography, Mia and Franco both took restaurant jobs in the city to pay the bills while pursuing their passion for photography. Over the years, Franco went from cook to executive to chef at a number of leading gourmet restaurants in New York City, Honolulu, Boulder and Denver, while Mia eventually turned to digital marketing and electronic commerce. Their two career paths seemed to line up perfectly for their own joint venture, named, you guessed it, Zaza.
Just because they slowed their frenetic and hectic pace in Manhattan by moving to Sarasota didn’t mean life slowed down around them. “When we had our first baby in the summer of 2020, frankly, we were exhausted,” says Mia. “We needed high quality, satisfying meals that were easy to prepare, without too much work and without waste. We were overpaying for a lot of take out and delivery, but it didn’t itch that itch for something warm. Then one day Franco made some of his lasagna – a family recipe handed down. He prepared more than they needed for a sitting evening, portioned it out, and froze individual pieces to get them ready for the next few days to easily reheat meals. Benissimo. Launching their new ‘take out and bake’ lasagna delivery business in September, the Gattos are now sharing their beloved Italian recipes with other families. “We want to give families the opportunity to have fun when they’re too busy or tired to spend that time in the kitchen on their own,” she says. “Homemade lasagna makes everyday life a special occasion.”
Zaza’s “Classica” lasagna recipe is an adaptation of Franco’s family, having immigrated from Genoa and Asti, IT, while the “Verde” lasagna was a creation in its own right. “Our recipes are no secret because they are so simple. Nothing is hidden here, everything is on the label, ”says Mia. “The only secret is that it takes a lot of time, patience and hard work. Most people don’t realize the difference hand-rolled pasta makes to a dish.
Find every container of hand-wrapped Zaza lasagna ready to put in the oven to enjoy, without the kitchen cleaning. And just when you think you’ve had your fair share of lasagna to go, the Gattos will (no pun intended) be releasing additional homemade pasta dishes like hand-pinched farfalle bow ties to order for the upcoming holiday season.