Underrated Places: Zaffino’s by Nori

For whatever reason, whether it’s small size, an out-of-the-way location, or just a lack of publicity, some restaurants tend to fall under the radar with a larger audience. Our new series takes a look at these Underrated Places.

Where: Zaffino’s by Nori (2001 E. Kiehl Ave …Sherwood)

The Restaurant: The unassuming Zaffino’s is located in a small strip center in Sherwood, Arkansas and is the epitome of an “under the radar” restaurant. Folks there serve up authentic Italian food with a substantial menu that includes items like veal piccatta, chicken marsala, beef lasagna, eggplant Parmesan and tortellini con fungi.

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The Atmosphere: Family-friendly and inviting—Zaffino’s offers a setting perfect for a large group, yet intimate enough for a date night. The décor is simple, un-pretentious and sets the mood for a wonderful evening of dining.

The Service: It seems a bit cliché, but the staff at Zaffino’s really does make you feel like family. Service is attentive, and management is genuinely concerned that patrons are enjoying their dining experience.

The Food: Start your meal off with the calamari and/or the bruschetta Romano. Both are somewhat standard, traditional takes on classic Italian appetizers, but are well-executed and quite pleasing with an audience of varying palettes. For entrees, pass on the spinach manicotti, unless you are splitting it with a tablemate. Don’t get me wrong, the dish (a manicotti shell filled with a combination of steamed spinach and ricotta) is delicious, but can be a bit much as a main course. Instead, opt for either the chicken cacciatore or the Italian sausage and mushrooms, the latter represents one of the better dishes you’ll find in Central Arkansas.

The Price: Most dishes will fall into that $13-20 range, which is quite reasonable given the adequate portions and high quality of food.

The Verdict: To put things into perspective for all the Little Rockers out there … Zaffino’s can hold its own with the likes of Capeo, Bruno’s Little Italy and Vesuvio’s. Yes, it’s that good. Make the 20 minute trip up north and find out for yourself.

The Info: Store Hours: Tuesday-Saturday: 5 p.m.-10 p.m. (501-834-7530)

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Underrated Places: Zaffino’s by Nori