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Working Lunch: Tazza Kitchen 

An approachable menu, efficient service and plenty of space make this spot an ideal lunch destination.

click to enlarge Spicy sausage, aged provolone, fresh mozzarella and black pepper honey top this pizza at Tazza Kitchen.

Scott Elmquist

Spicy sausage, aged provolone, fresh mozzarella and black pepper honey top this pizza at Tazza Kitchen. 

There's more to Scott's Addition than beer. Trendy dinner destinations have become more abundant in the neighborhood, but don't overlook the weekday lunch options. Chief among these is Tazza Kitchen, a bustling branch of the six-location chain, now with the Big Kitchen takeout spot. Known for its brick pizza ovens, Tazza is a crowd-pleasing workday lunch spot with an emphasis on ingredients from local farmers. We tested the Scott's Addition location.

Vibe

This is a happening spot. It's buzzy and hopping, with a large dining room and outdoor patio. Wood tables, upholstered chairs and pale blue fabric create an upscale, modern feel. Even when the space is full, it doesn't feel crowded or overstuffed.
The patrons look like a mix of business meetings and groups of older ladies with the afternoon off, with a skew towards the working lunch.

This isn't the same feel as a busy downtown eatery. Instead of lobbyists, investment bankers and lawyers, Tazza feels like it's filled with Scott's Addition's creatives and entrepreneurs. Business-casual shoes and backpacks outnumber pointy-toed pumps and bow ties.

click to enlarge The grilled Gulf shrimp tacos feature a house dry rub, guacamole, cured cabbage, pico de gallo and papaya hot sauce served on two corn tortillas. - SCOTT ELMQUIST
  • Scott Elmquist
  • The grilled Gulf shrimp tacos feature a house dry rub, guacamole, cured cabbage, pico de gallo and papaya hot sauce served on two corn tortillas. 

Menu

It's a crowd-pleaser list, full of salads, sandwiches, bowls, and, of course, pizza. This is a good spot for a mixed group of palates and dietary needs.

Our mushroom and mozzarella pizza was flavorful and well-cooked. This kitchen is definitely not afraid of a good char.

The salads we tried were disappointingly meager. Although the crunchy potato and arugula salad was large, it lacked substance — it was all arugula with only one or two sliced fingerling potatoes and a few lumps of mozzarella. After it arrived, I paid the extra $7 to add salmon, which was cooked to a perfect medium rare, with a crunchy wood-grilled surface.

For a soup-and-salad lunch special, the chicken tortilla soup was tomatoey and robust, with a hint of chili — perfect for a chilly spring day. But the arugula and goat cheese salad with roasted tomatoes needed seasoning and a few more tangy tomatoes.

Grilled gulf shrimp tacos offered a better value, featuring two corn tortillas loaded with shrimp, guacamole, cabbage and papaya hot sauce.

Everyone in my different lunch groups, even a vegetarian, found appealing menu items here, and the server easily made a few dietary accommodations.

Service

Hosts at Tazza are attentive and friendly, keeping a close eye on the door and seating guests quickly. Service is efficient, with no conversation interruptions or long-winded speeches about specials. Seeing us engrossed in conversation, our server merely caught my eye with a quick "OK?" then left us alone when I nodded.
I had a small glitch when I asked for almonds to be left out of my salad. When I discovered a few pieces of almond, the server apologized, and suggested that next time I point out that my request was due to an allergy, not a preference. When she said that, I realized that normally servers ask me if I have an allergy, which I do.

Lesson learned — I'll remember to volunteer the allergy information next time, but when a guest makes a request about nuts, servers should ask to be safe.

click to enlarge Tazza Kitchen in Scott’s Addition is spacious and lunch meeting-friendly with an extensive, affordable menu. - SCOTT ELMQUIST
  • Scott Elmquist
  • Tazza Kitchen in Scott’s Addition is spacious and lunch meeting-friendly with an extensive, affordable menu. 

Workability

This is a busy lunch spot, focused on turnover, and not a great place to camp out for solo work. You might be able to cozy your laptop to the large bar, although when I visited, the hosts were seating overflow diners there.

It is, however, a terrific spot for a meeting. I met business colleagues here for lunch on three occasions, all of whom were first-timers. My lunch partners — one fellow foodie and two more general eaters — were all pleased with their meals and the prices. We talked business the entire time, with no shouting or straining to hear. Everyone said that they would definitely return.

Speed

You may not find a parking spot in the same block, but there is plenty of free street parking in Scott's Addition. One friend with a massive Ford F-250 truck had no trouble finding a spot a few blocks away.

The three times I ate there, we were in and out in an hour, without feeling at all rushed. We had no problem getting a no-reservations table at noon, despite a short line at the host station and a full-looking dining room.

click to enlarge SCOTT ELMQUIST
  • Scott Elmquist

Price

You can eat well here for about $10, with pizzas ranging from $10-14. Salads cost $8 ($4.50-$7 to add chicken, shrimp, or salmon) and a soup-and-salad combo is $8.50. The shrimp tacos are $11, for a substantial dish. Sandwiches cost $9-$10.

At these prices, don't expect leftovers. The only one of us at my lunches who took home a doggie bag was the diner who ordered a whole pizza. But none of us left hungry.

Overall, Tazza Kitchen is a reliably tasty and affordable choice for a weekday lunch. It's a hot spot for a trendy Scott's Addition business meeting — fresh food, bright and stylish interior and efficient service. No wonder it's always packed.

Tazza Kitchen
1500 Roseneath Road
Mondays 4:30 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Tuesdays - Thursdays 11:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Fridays 11:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m., 4:30 p.m. – 11 p.m.
Saturdays 11:30 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Sundays 10:30 a.m. – 3 p.m., 4:30 p.m. – 9 p.m.
tazzakitchen.com

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