Italian Cooking & Language Blog

Fare La Scarpetta means to wipe your plate clean with a piece of bread.

What else could you ask for?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Reader Comments on Zingerman's (Part 2 of 2)

We’ll be returning to Zingerman’s for a Special Dinner Do-Over on April 13th. Will they be able to meet expectations? I asked readers to share their thoughts on Zingerman’s. Based on their experiences, it looks like it could go either way.

You can read Part 1 of the reader comments here.

If you would like to submit your thoughts on Zingerman’s, please use the Comments section below or email me (Chloemiller(at)gmail(dot)com.)

Going to Zingerman's is like going inside someone's crazy. But there is good food to be had until you can escape!

          - KC Trommer

I have tried to be excited about Zingermans, really I have.

Met for coffee and pastry a few times with friends when we first moved here from NYC -pretty good. Had a pastrami sandwich about a year ago - on stale dried out bread. No thank you!

I do like their sesame semolina very much, though, and will pay the price for it on special occasions. Had one near Roadhouse experience – walked in. It was very loud and very crowded, smelled like the boardwalk so we didn’t put our names on the 2 hour waitlist.

          - Laurie

Liz {my wife} is a Zingeraddict. I've also grown to love some of the more unique dishes, like "twigs and berries" and the trout salad.

          -Fabio Rojas

I agree about ZIngerman's being too pricey except as a treat. But I would like to add that it is a local treasure in terms of its support for wholesome, local food. I know that the folks of Locavorious use a Zingerman's kitchen facility. Instead of being cutthroat, Zingerman's appears quite supportive of other local food innovators.

          -Bonnie Bucqueroux

When I worked in Ann Arbor at the medical center I went there for lunch or after work for a sandwich MAYBE two times in 5 years. Much like Whole Foods being "Whole Paycheck", I referred to Zingerman's Deli as the "best $13 sandwich" in town. It is an iconic place though and I just took a visiting friend there (to deli and roadhouse) when we were in town for the Folk Festival. As MK said, I wouldn't head there for a sandwich typically, given the other great places around. I used to stop there occasionally (in the nine years since I worked in AA) when we were in town to pick up a specific thing like bacon, loaf of bread, cheese. In the last five years, the availability of Zingerman's products in Lansing has expanded greatly. There is daily fresh delivery of bread to the East Lansing Food Co-op and I can get quite a few of the Creamery Cheeses locally at ELFCO and the City Market. Nueske's bacon was another draw to Zingerman's, but I can even find that locally now. The one item I would head to the deli for that I can't get here anymore is the gelato. If you haven't tried the Burned Sugar Gelato, it is incredible. The E.L. Food Co-op carried it for awhile and I think Blaine and I were the only ones to buy it. By the pint it is pretty pricey and unless you had tried it before, you wouldn't know what to expect and want to make the investment in it.

When I was in town for the Folk Festival last month, I finally ate at the Roadhouse. We had to make early reservations because of the FFest crowds and ended up with the lunch menu. The prices were much less than I had anticipated on the dinner menu, which was a bonus. We had a great meal and excellent service and I thought I blogged on it, but I guess it is still "in the hopper" right now. I need to get to that. The brisket was great, grits incredible and pimento mac and cheese pretty tasty too.

I would return to the Roadhouse again, but honestly there are so many places I miss down there and so many new ones to try, I won't race back. I am going to be in AA for a week at the end of the school year for a mentorship/internship experience at the U. I will likely check Zingerman's schedule for classes or tastings, but won't fight my way through the crowd or make the financial commitment of a sandwich there.


I ate at Zingerman's Roadhouse this summer. I had the pork sandwich with South Carolina mustard BBQ sauce. The sauce was unique and made the meal.

          -Gregory Koger

We've been to all of the Zingerman's stores at one time or another. You have to understand that we live 3.5 hours away from Ann Arbor, and besides The Ark, Zingerman's is usually our destination. (We may throw in some gambling or spiritually-related event, but Zingerman's is our main destination.) We usually bring a cooler with us for the special cheeses, potato salad, and meats in the cases at the Deli and have at least one meal at the Roadhouse and usually split a sandwich at the Deli.
We visited all of the stores the last time we were there in April of '08 and received a Zingerman's road trip t-shirt at the end as a parting gift.

The service is outstanding. We chatted with one of our servers once about the steps they have to take to become a server. It's quite impressive to hear what they have to do. If there is any complaint, it's that they tend to hover, which I suspect they're trained to do. We're used to and enjoy the European way of table service: don't interrupt and don't hover, but DO pay attention to the customer to see when/if they need something.

The food has always been outstanding. At our ripe old age (mid-50s and early 60s) we've encountered several best-evers at the Roadhouse: meat loaf, mac 'n' cheese, ribs, for starters.

We met one of the owners at the Roadhouse when he came to our table delivering a lagniappe (Ari) and he was soon showing Bob around to look at his salt and pepper shaker collection after he found out that Bob was a collector. Nice guy and definitely involved in his day-to-day operations.

We had the Creamery to ourselves on that roadtrip t-shirt day & the person helping us out took his time with us. We ended up sampling just about every cheese in the entire store and of course brought a lot home, which is their goal. We just used some guanciale last night in a beef roast from that trip & it held up!

They're not cheap! The catalog is even more expensive... but we've sent gifts across the US from Z's and never had a problem. Apples to CA, olive oils to Oregon, gift baskets to VA and NJ.

My mouth is watering..... gotta get back soon!

          -Jan Patetta

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