Taste of Italy (Zia's Delicatessen - Davis, CA)

Saturday, September 23, 2006

I think one of the best little moments in life is when you discover one of your new favorite places to eat for the first time. It's almost sacred taking the first bite of the food that you know will call you again and again. Breathing the aroma of the air, sweetened by air cured meats, fresh baked pastries, and pungent cheeses encourage you to bask in the perfume. Your eyes feast on every piece of eye candy the haven has to offer.

This is how I felt when I first stumbled into Zia's. I had passed by the place before on many occasions, never really giving the place a second thought, but on my recent mental health day, I figured to myself, "Why not?" I had been hankering for a good sandwich that day so the hanging sign was definitly calling my name.

Zia's Delicatessen was opened in 1996 by Anne Marie Crilly, and after 10 years has withstood the test of time and the trial of college town summers, establishing it as a permanent player in the Davis restaurant scene. Stepping inside, you'll understand why.

Apparently the door is a little winkle in time to an Italian trattoria, because that's where I found myself. "Buongiorno!" called the adorable lady behind the counter. I nodded my hello, unable to speak as I approached the ginormous freaking deli counter. It was filled to the brim with smoked, brined, and dry cured meats, slabs of proscuitto and pancetta tempted my mouth and my wallet. Cheeses of all kinds were available for take home. Various pasta salads, side dishes, and desserts were laid out. There was even a gelato counter! *Le sigh* indeed! This was like the restaurant I had dreamed of opening! (I want to open a soup/sandwich/coffee shop someday.)

After scrolling through the throughly enticing chalk written menu, and finally asked the lady behind the counter to just give me whatever the popular choice was. She smiled and told me she knew exactly what to do. She then went and started deli-slicing paper thin sheets of turkey and smoked mozarella, the then took an Italian roll, slathered it up with some pesto mayo, looseleaf lettuce and tomato. It was thick and stacked high; the way a sandwich should be! I also got a sparkling orange juice, popping the top off on the little bottle cap removed attached to the side of the counter. All for a measly $7.50, a shibby price for a shibby meal!

The whole thing was perfectly delicious, and after plopping myself down in one of their tables, I was complacent to people watch as various Davis denizens met with each other and went up and down the street. I also watched the line in Zia's. For a Thursday, this place was getting a lot of buisness and a lot of traffic, but no one seemed to wait more than a minute. A picture of efficiency.

Aside from being an eatery and deli, Zia's is also a little Italian grocery where you can find anchovies, olives, oil, and various Italian goods. I have to admit I caved a little and bought some fig balsamic vinegar. I figured this would be perfect on grilled cheese sandwiches, and various desserts and salads! A small rebellion against the coming cold weather!

Eventually, I had to walk through the door and step back into California, but it's always nice to know that a door to Italy is only a short ways away. I'll be sure to bring my tour book next time.

Zia's Delicatessen
616 3rd Street
Davis, CA 95616
(530) 750-7870


  1. I love a good Italian deli and have struggled to find one in the area that rivals my old Italian neighborhood deli, Genova in Oakland. Good to know there's something comparable sounding in Davis!

  2. I think you need to send me some fig balsamic vinegar and in exchange I can send you some of the politics and rain that seem to be plagueing us lately. :(

    Yay! Another reason to love the Left Coast.

  3. Oh...I remember Zia's sandwiches -- so good!

    I just recently discovered your blog and I adore it! I went to Davis (graduated in '01) and I love reading about how the city has changed.

    Keep up the good work!

  4. We need a good Italian deli here locally. I found out a local store does deli stuff, but I haven't tried them yet. We are missing SO many good things in this small town!

  5. Kim - The name Genova only makes me think of the villain Jenova from Final Fantasy VII. God, I'm a nerd.

    Liz - It's also $10 for not as much as I think I should be getting for the price. :P Screw it, it tastes yummy though. You can prolly make it yourself though. It looks like the ingredients are Balsamic Vinegar and mashed up figs.

    C Anne - Glad you like the blog and happy you found it! Yeah, I enrolled in 01' and graduated a year ago. You should check out just how much has changed!

    Jennifer - Davis really does have quite a few hidden gems. If you are ever in the town of Ojai, they have some shibby places to nosh as well.

  6. I feel guilty. I used to go there frequently, but got side tracked...... They make fabulous sandwiches, no doubt about that.


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