My Wandering Fork
St. Johns Magazine's exclusive reviews of Local Restaurants by Local Foodie Lori Allen
Stromboli, Meatballs Sicilian-Style Pizza & Nutella Gelato
12795 San Jose Blvd, Jacksonville, FL 32223
by Lori Allen
Stromboli is made up of dough shaped into an elongated rectangle, then rolled to create a long skinny and cylindrical shape. It is typically made with low moisture mozzarella cheese which helps the interior dough to cook fully and you can add in any of your favorite meats and veggies or just cheese works as well. The difference between a calzone and Stromboli is that a calzone is generally a single serving, half circle shape and it contains ricotta whereas a Stromboli does not. The Stromboli was named after the Italian isle of Stromboli and on that island there is a giant volcano called Mt. Stromboli.
At Zulos their Stromboli is ginormous and comes out all ooey gooey! It is baked in a handmade customized brick oven (gas vs flame) which makes it crusty on the outside and soft and fluffy on the in. Along with this masterpiece you get a side of their homemade sauce (gravy as the Italians call it) which is made with fresh tomatoes, garlic, spices and other fresh ingredients that gives it a rich robust tomato flavor. Tear off a piece of the baked cheese dough and dip it into the “gravy” and you will have a true Italian experience!
I love meatballs and it is difficult for me to find ones that come close to my Italian roots. At Zulos I found that they were made with just the right meat combination and enough garlic to satisfy even my tastes. The key I think is that they use their custom oven to cook them in. This gave them a nice sear so they are firm on the outside and tender on the in. Mama Mia! So good.
Sicilian style pizza is also on the menu. This type of pizza is vastly different than regular pizza. The dough is made with more oil and looks fluffy and heavy like brick. The bottom technically gets fried. I found it to be light and airy on the inside and crispy on the out. If you like thick pizza you need to give this a try!
Speaking about dough, Zeppolos is what I like to call the Italian version of the New Orleans beignet. They are hand rolled made to order deep fried dough. Powdered sugar is then sprinkled gingerly adding just the right amount of sweetness to the dough. I rarely find these down south so I was delighted to try them. You can have them as an appetizer or as desert. I decided to have them to start and take the remaining ones home to my family. They came out piping hot and smelled sooooo good. I waited just a few seconds for them to cool then popped one in my mouth..the next thing I knew a second one found its way into my belly as well. I had to stop so that I didn’t eat them all before I got them home!
As everyone knows Nutella is as Italian as it gets for that rich dark creamy chocolaty hazel nutty snack. Have you ever tried Nutella Gelato? This is the best of both worlds, you have the coolness of the gelato and creaminess of the Nutella all scooped into one. And as an added bonus it's less calories than ice cream so go ahead and finish your meal with a scoop. You won’t be disappointed!
Tony and Madeline Mazulos i.e. Zulos are the real gems of this restaurant. They greet you with such genuine warmth and smiles that you instantly feel like famiglia!
*Outdoor seating is available as well as live music on Wednesdays and during the weekends.
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Lori Allen is a local who moved from the Boston area to attend Flagler College and never left. She is a family person that loves the beach, football, working out and finding new places to try. Her love for food comes from her northern background and her love of cooking as well as meeting new and interesting people. She has never met a stranger nor has she ever been afraid to try an intriguing place. (Check out all her reviews on stjohnsmag.com)
Lori now has her own instagram page -check it out at mywanderingfork