EATZI’S: HAVING IT ALL

Byline: HOLLY HABER

DALLAS — At last, Dallas has its own version of Dean & DeLuca, a combination grocery, bakery, deli and grill vending exceptional prepared food to eat in or take out.
With reasonable prices and an outstanding selection, EatZi’s has been thronged with shoppers since it opened in late January. It bustles like a European marketplace, with opera serenading shoppers and some of the 45 chefs always visible, cooking up new delights. Even the staff is refreshingly cheerful and accommodating.
“I think people come here to get their batteries recharged with the food, the music, the color and atmosphere,” says Phil Romano, a longtime local restaurateur who created EatZi’s in partnership with Brinker International, which owns Chili’s and other dining chains.
The big draw is the selection of food, which is all prepared fresh daily on the premises.
The main chef’s case houses a mAlange of pasta, vegetables, pizza, meats, fish and Southwestern dishes. A typical sampling: marinated mozzarella, spinach with olive oil and garlic, lobster and shrimp ravioli, peppered tuna, wild mushroom pizza, eggplant rollatini, ratatouille and chicken burritos. A full line of uncooked meat and fish is available, grilled to order or packed with a marinade to take home.
But that’s just one aspect of EatZi’s. The chefs at the grill will create a stir-fry with the customer’s choice of ingredients, heat a slab of basil-onion-cheese focaccia, or wrap up a wood-roasted whole chicken or uncooked shish kebab.
At the sandwich bar, 10 dressings are offered, including herbed butter and ancho chile mayonnaise, and besides the usual lettuce and tomatoes, sandwich toppers include roasted red peppers or grilled eggplant. And then there’s the bakery, which offers temptations such as apple walnut raisin bread and apricot frangipane tarte. In all, 60 kinds of breads and rolls and 80 types of pastry and dessert are made daily.
EatZi’s has fruits and vegetables and a carefully edited assortment of jams, dressings and other delicacies, plus wine and beer.
“We don’t have every item, but we have the best of what’s available,” said Anthony Tedesco, who helped create EatZi’s as director of new concept development at Brinker.
In all, 1,500 items are offered, including 400 to 450 prepared foods and 140 varieties of cheese.
“People really want to eat more at home, but don’t have as much time to prepare,” Tedesco points out. “We offer ready-to-heat, ready-to-eat and ready-to-prepare.”
Romano thinks there may be room for four more in the Dallas metropolitan area, since customer reaction has been overwhelmingly positive.
Says Romano, “Guys tell us that now they don’t have to get married, and the women say, ‘Now I don’t have to cook anymore.”‘

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