Zeppole in Collingswood
Can't find the Inquirer column where Zeppole was mentioned, but I believe the chef comes with excellent credentials, so we were looking forward to our dinner.
Because the place is so tiny, they could only accomodate our party of 5 at 9. When we arrived, the noise was equal to Modo Mia, which is the noisiest place I've ever been to. By 9:30, we could actually hear each other. They really need to do something about the noise, perhaps something to the ceiling or walls to muffle the sound.
My husband and I shared 2 appetizers. The first was an appetizer sized portion of a short homemade pasta, similar to cavatelli in a really delicious pistachio almond pesto. The second, a special, was grilled sardines, well grilled and very fresh, but you gotta like sardines to order this.
My entree was the rabbit, prepared in a pizzaiola sauce. Well cooked, classic pizzaiola and decent roasted potatoes, but nothing to make me want to order it again. My husband had another special, the sea bream. The presentation was very nice and the fish was moist, but again, nothing to knock your socks off. Unfortunately, we could not taste one of our dining partners taglietele limone because she was getting over a sore throat, but she liked it. We did not taste our other partner's orders, so can't comment on them.
Dessert was rather confused. They brought us the wrong flavor of homemade gelato, but the vanilla we got was very creamy and had a very natural flavorful vanilla taste, so we didn't send it back. Because there was a mixup about what they were out of, we actually ended up with an extra dessert, something similar to a panna cotta, but with an almond flaver, which was pretty good.
Service was attentive, but we probably will not return because of the noise and because we didn't like it nearly as much as Collingswood's Sicilian gem, Sapori.
601 Haddon Ave, Collingswood, NJ 08108
We went to Zeppole on a Monday night, and found the noise level to be comparable to many other popular restaurants, ie, tolerable. Thought the food was outstanding. We especially enjoyed the fish of the day, which happened to be sea bass that was absolutely perfectly cooked, very simple prep with olive oil, lemons, and capers. The staff were very busy but kept us apprised of our status from the moment we walked in the door (15 min early for our res) until we left. The half portions of pasta were perfect for sharing and had distinctive flavors--I'd definitely order any of them again. I know they are working on noise-reduction modifications so that will only get better--then you probably won't be able to get a resrvation!
We found Zeppoli to be trying really hard to be good, and it is. It's very good for South Jersey. The area they have to work on is service, ie: when chilling Champagne, or white wine, a bucket of ice without water will not work plus they don't have Champagne flutes-why?
The tables are supposed to be rustic, but the four top we sat at was uneven and our glasses we're not stable plus they needed table clothes. The wait staff was very attentive and on top of everything, too on top, how many times do we have to answer the question " how's everything" or " can I get you something" The complimentary olives in dipping oil was very good but how about a serving spoon - why do diners have to reach into the mix?
Serving pieces for the shared plates would also be a nice touch. And finally, the noise level - noise works at a scene restaurant like Parc or El Vez, but Zeppoli has no scene and is way too small to have that much sound.
Anyway, considering it's been given five stars, or forks, we paid a lot more attention to the details - that's where the Devil is - We hope they do well.