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The student news site of Hamline University.

The Oracle

The student news site of Hamline University.

The Oracle

OG ZaZa: Worth the hype?

Read an Oracle reporter’s review of a nearby pizza spot.
Max Ridenour
Senior Alex Sirek orders at OG ZaZa.

  This article was previously published in print on Dec. 05, 2023.  

Conveniently located along the A-Line, the Rosedale Center mall has long provided an accessible hub for Pipers to get started on their holiday shopping, grab a bite, or simply mill about with their friends after class. Though I myself am not a huge enjoyer of malls, I have recently taken interest in a new restaurant that appeared to spawn overnight in Rosedale’s food court. 

Dubbed “OG ZaZa,” the Italian-inspired eatery seems to brand itself with a bit of a tough guy vibe: beneath a visual trailer featuring cavalcades of falling pizza boxes and close-up kitchen shots interspersed with glitchy SFX on the official website’s splash page, OG ZaZa describes itself as “serving up badass artisan pizzas along with caesar salad, big azz breadstick[sic], and spumoni ice cream.” 

Recently, amidst a slew of algorithmic content binging, I saw a video review describing OG ZaZa as one of the best pizza places in the Twin Cities (and associated suburbs). Combined with their… intriguing name, this naturally meant it was time for me to give it a try.  

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I made the trip out during an awkward gap between classes, alongside senior Alex Sirek, who was similarly in need of a quick lunch during the hectic pre-final season. Arriving at the mall, we wove between closed-off construction zones and entered the food court. We were immediately greeted on our right-hand side by OG ZaZa’s close quarters and vibrant branding– a giant wall decal of a halftoned face eating a dripping neon slice peeks out from behind tall stacks of pizza boxes, and the seating area is illuminated by old school lightbulbs affixed to wooden pizza peels, charred at the edges and hung from the white brick wall. 

We ordered the first item on the menu, a pepperoni pizza entitled “Li’l RONI,” and were taken aback by the price, which came to $22.60 for a 12” small pie with an 18% tip.

“I thought for 22 dollars, which is what it was including tip– I think it was like 18%, so not even a full tip –it was very steep for what it is,” Sirek said. The service was prompt, and we ended up taking our feast to go, munching over a table in Anderson and pontificating over our culinary experience. 

Right away, it was evident that OG ZaZa did not skimp on toppings. Our pizza was rich with cheese and cupped pepperoni, piled high on an enticing hand-fired crust. It was not an insignificant amount of food- even between the two of us, my portion ended up being more than filling. But ultimately, I found that OG ZaZa was not quite what I was expecting.

The oil was a definite turn-off for me. The shape of the pepperoni created reservoirs of warm oil that drenched each slice and formed a lake in the center of the box. And although the sheer quantity of pepperoni helped justify the price, I found it to be somewhat excessive. The crust was a strong highlight: the crisp texture and distinct woodfired taste helped to balance out a pizza that was otherwise soggy and lacking in variety. 

Sirek felt similarly. “I would get it if it was pizza by the slice for like three dollars, but even though we split the cost, I feel a little scammed out of 10 bucks. It’s really greasy, and I just kind of think it’s not my thing, but I don’t know who it’s for, given the price and quality,” she said. “I do feel like it’s pretty on par with mall pizza, but it’s much more expensive.” 

Although OG ZaZa did not quite deliver on being everything I had hoped for, it certainly was not bad. However, Hamline students in search of a cheap and tasty slice might have better luck with other local establishments, such as Doge Pizza, which lies just a short journey away from campus on Aldine Street and offers a wide selection of tasty and affordable specialty pizzas. They are open until 12 a.m. perfect for fueling a late-night study session. 

Sirek also shared some of her favorite spots in the area as alternative suggestions. 

“I love Mesa Pizza: pizza by the slice for five dollars. They’re open really late, they’re really cool, they have a bunch of different options for less traditional and more traditional types of pizza,” she said. “I do like Punch Pizza. I will say, I know it’s a chain, but it’s good, and I think it’s a local chain. It doesn’t bother me. I think the price is pretty similar to this.”

No matter how you slice it, there are certainly a number of worthwhile options for any pizza enthusiast to try. And even though OG ZaZa was not my personal favorite, it could certainly be a good option for a quick and filling lunch on the go– if you have a little extra dough to spare. 

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    RobJan 20, 2024 at 11:37 am

    OG Zaza’s pizzas are among my favorite I’ve ever tried in my life. At the very least, they are my favorite thin crust pizzas.

    But to each their own. More for me.