We are creatures of habit. We form our opinions on something or someone, try to disassociate ourselves from the recollection of the past and maintain ourselves in our small little comfort bubble. And why not? It’s what we like, what we know, and there is definitely no room for mess ups. Well, this past Wednesday we confronted a ghost from the past, said “what the heck”, and reacquainted ourselves with Zucca 83.

Gaby: I must admit that I have visited Zucca before and left less than impressed. Something was not clicking between my taste buds and my limbic system. However, I am also of the belief that places deserve second chances, especially local businesses trying to strive in this chain-dominated market.

Trisha: Our friend insisted that we visit one more time and experience Zucca 83’s new management, wait staff, and culinary delights by newly hired Chef Temoshi Kitamura.

Gaby: My biggest memory of Zucca 83 was its beautiful decor. Walking into (once again) the establishment you can’t help but feel like you have just left the Valley and have found yourself half-way across the world in a small villa filled with works and furniture pieces from various Italian art eras.

Trisha: In one whole gaze my eyes went from the wooden floors up the (literally) velvet wallpaper, to the shimmering chandeliers and finally unto the ceiling decorated with paintings reminiscent of the Sistine Chapel.

Gaby: But don’t let this modern-day Renaissance make you think that you have to dress like royalty in order to fit in. Just like every good traditional Italian home, you feel welcomed and all they insist is that you DRINK and EAT!

Trisha: Not wanting to insult our host, we followed orders without hesitation. Luckily (for us), it was Martini Wednesday which meant $5 Martinis from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Needless to say, we happily complied with our server’s suggestions and one Coco Ciroc Martini, with his friend Jack Fruit Martini, joined us at the table!

Gaby: In staying with the evening’s theme of “chances” I tried my luck with the Jack Fruit Martini. Trisha, staying true to her love for all that is coconut, decided to take her “chances” with the Coco Ciroc. Zucca marinates its fruit 4 to 5 days before they even use it in their drinks. There was a definite smokey taste to it which intrigued me and I can definitely say that my Jack Fruit cherry was popped!

Trisha: Well something got popped for sure after you gulped that fruity ‘tini down!

Gaby: Hey, I had to make sure I had enough time to check out their Cucumber Martini! It’s not my favorite drink, but you can really tell a lot about a bar based on this drink. The combination of our area’s hot weather and its chic style make the Cucumber Martini a Valley go-to. Let me tell you, Zucca 83’s is worth it!

Trisha: Since we couldn’t decide what to have for dinner, we pulled a classic “Gaby and Trisha” move and opted for 3 dishes: 72-Hour Beef Short Rib, Garganelli in Saffron Fumet, and Pizza di Formaggio. We really, as researchers, had no other choice. (wink wink)

Gaby: Nope, mmm-mmm, we weren’t hungry one little bit! Luckily, we had our own personal human Pandora, Arzalez, to help us devour the feast before us. There is nothing like being able to share a good meal, spirits and conversation about music with great friends. Or in my case, being educated by Trisha on the various classics!

Trisha: I am attempting to extend you a grand service, missy!

Gaby: Names aren’t important to me, so long as it’s a tune I can jam to or sing at the top of my lungs.

Trisha: On that note, back to the food. All dishes were brought out simultaneously and placed in the middle of our table. We were somewhat overwhelmed and had no idea where to begin. There was a range of colors and smells scolding us about forgetting our stretchy pants.

Gaby: I am a pizza girl so I dove right in and grabbed a slice of Pizza di Formaggio (I am trying to type and say this all while holding up my right hand in a cusp and moving it in a up-and-down motion. I am really bad at impressions!

FUN FACT: The owners of the restaurant thought the name Zucca sounded cool and hip; however, it means pumpkin in Italian.

I was in pizza heaven when Brie, Fontina, Mozzarella, Provolone and a slight hint of honey melted in my mouth. Even Arzalez claimed, “This is amazing! And that’s because I don’t even like cheese pizza!”

Trisha: Garganelli in Saffron Fumet was like an Italian style Paella where the rice was substituted for pasta. Filled with shrimp, Blue Crab, tomato, Spanish Chorizo, and saffron sauce, this dish really stood out to be a unique and favorite amongst our table.

Gaby: That’s how I always want my Paella now!

Trisha: And don’t forget that beef short rib! The Truffle Risotto could be the reason alone as to why this dish is under the Chef Specials. It was light, fluffy, and cooked to perfection!

Gaby: I am still dreaming of that risotto (and another pizza slice).

Trisha: Now that’s my definition of having “sweet dreams”.

Speaking of sweet, Zucca 83 offers up a dreamy Mostachon made with a cookie crust comprised of Ritz crackers and pecans layered with cream cheese and topped with fresh strawberries. I’m not normally about the after dinner pastries, but I will say that there was not a single bit of that delightful dessert evidence left behind. I’ve no doubt that those two brilliant dessert chefs working their magic in the kitchen can whip up just about anything to perfection.

Gaby: Zucca 83 has daily lunch menu options from 11 AM- 5 PM and, in addition to $5 Martini Wednesdays, Whiskey Happy Hour from 5-10 PM on Thursdays.

Trisha: Dine and wine at Zucca 83, located on 4901 W Expressway 83, McAllen, TX, 78503 or contact them for additional information at (956) 843-0148 or email info@zucca83.com. You can also visit their Facebook page @zucca83McAllen.

Gaby Jones and Trisha Watts work hand-in-hand with the service industry. Jones is in charge of craft and imported beer for L&F Distributors and Watts is the communications director for Visit McAllen. Each week they will have a new adventure and provide an opinion on various locations throughout the Rio Grande Valley.