My first few experiences with Zebra were OK, though one of them stood out as a major disaster in the service department. It actually resulted with our sending the entire food order back after we waited 90 minutes for it. My main gripe (as if that were not enough) was the total lack of response from the management until we finally made a scene (our server was great and was very embarrassed by it all). Mistakes will happen, but the bad attitude and total disinterest by management angered us all.
But that was a couple of years ago, and Zebra is still there, and I still get numerous emails about the high quality of the food. So it’s time to clear the slate and let Zebra redeem itself through new customer comments and a few new visits from us. There are many good things to tell you about this place, and hopefully the attitude problem has been resolved. Time will tell.
The menu at Zebra is interestingly arranged, with pasta plates and salad-based goodies on the left, and more elaborate meat/fish dishes on the right. One of the things I like about the left side of the menu is that they offer the pasta plates in half and whole portions. I had the half-portion of the tortellini with peas and prosciutto in a rich, creamy sauce. Though my main course was OK (more about that later), images of those little peas and the crispy, thin-as-air slices of prosciutto still haunt me. I’m getting the whole portion of the tortellini next time.
Not that the veal wasn’t good! Pounded out bigger and thinner than any scallopini I’ve ever seen, I could only conclude that the sous chef had some anger issues to work out. I’m glad he took it out on that thin, crispy, lean piece of veal. The version I ordered was lightly breaded and topped with a salad mixture. I know this is a traditional Italian presentation (with the salad on top of the protein), but it must have spent a little too much time under the lights or under the warmer, as the lettuce was hot, slippery and soggy. What were they thinking!?! Well, On another visit, I complained about the warm lettuce debacle and the server brought the salad portion of the dish in a cool stainless steel ramekin that kept the salad cold. I combined bites of the veal and the greens and the counterpoint of the cool salad against the warm veal was perfect. So, if you order any of the things that are topped with the salad, be sure to ask for the salad on the side, unless, of course, you like warm, slippery lettuce.
Others at the table got a veal dish with cheese and sauce (the closest they come to veal Parmesan without actually calling it that), and a rib eye steak dish that reminded me of steak pizzaiola. Next time I’m getting that veal dish–any veal dish. They were delicious.
Downscale it is not. Even on that humid evening, patrons were in long pants and collared shirts. Note that they also have a wonderful wraparound porch where patrons can enjoy dining al fresco with a panoramic view of Stingray across the street. Word around town is that if you want a quiet dining experience, especially in the high season, you reserve a table close to the bar toward the front. Apparently, people who can’t control their children are relegated toward the back. If that is indeed the case, I admire Zebra for doing it. The price point is too high to dine as if you are in a kindergarten.
(By the way, click here for reservations at Zebra through OpenTable.com.)