Located at 338 Orange Street, Zoi’s is a favorite for those who live and work in downtown New Haven. When we were casually perusing the Elm City Best-of list one day (I guess that’s what we do for fun) we noticed that Zoi’s came up a few times. One day Lauren passed it on her way back from the train station and noticed the line was out the door, so putting two and two together we decided it was a must-try.
The menu at Zoi’s has something for even the pickiest of eaters, with 27 different specialty sandwiches, 8 salads, and extensive breakfast options.Walking into Zoi’s, we were surprised to see a small space with a few tables. After placing our order, we were led to the back into a large outdoor patio where we got to enjoy our meal soaking up the sun with much more elbowroom than there was inside. We got lucky with the timing- by the time we left there was no more seating left, it was packed with regular costumers both inside and out on the patio. After our delicious meal, we decided we had to come back to try more of what Zoi’s has to offer.
On my first trip to Zois, Carolina and I tried the Greek salad, a daily soup special (a tomato bisque), and two wraps from the intimidatingly long sandwich menu.
I like to consider myself a Greek salad aficionado. The Greek salad we had at Zoi’s had everything you would expect from a typical Greek salad, nothing more nothing less. Personally I’d skip this one next time because there are so many other incredible things on the menu to save room for.
The tomato bisque soup, for example, was unbelievable. At first we thought it might be too filling for an appetizer, but the soup was surprisingly light and delicious- in fact, one of the best soups I’ve had in New Haven. The tomato-y base was softened by a light cream, and the onions gave it the perfect texture. Every bite was flavorful and much more than we expected from a soup appetizer. Unfortunately it was a daily special, so if you want to order it I’d check online (they update their specials daily) before you make the trek.
We then split two sandwiches. We got the #13, a tomato wrap with oven thick slices of oven roasted turkey breast, pepper jack cheese, bacon, lettuce, and tomato drizzled with chipotle sauce. It was tasty, but since we ordered it without cheese it was missing some flavor. The ingredients were fresh and the chipotle mayo gave it a bit of a kick which I liked, but it paled in comparison to the other wrap we had.
The winner this trip was the #22: grilled chicken with avocado, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and balsamic vinaigrette in a tomato wrap. The homemade balsamic vinaigrette was delicious, and the ingredients struck a perfect balance between the crunch of fresh lettuce and bacon, generous amounts of warm grilled chicken, and the smoothness of the avocado. If you’re an avocado fan, this is the way to go.
On my second trip to Zoi’s, I decided to go a different route and revert back to my red-meat roots. I ordered the #21: shaved rib-eye steak on a roll with American cheese, grilled onions, lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise. It was glorious. I’m a huge baseball fan, and one of my favorite things to do is sit in the stands eating a Philly cheese steak. Being outside in the sun with a rib-eye sandwich felt about as close as it gets to my favorite baseball days. The rib-eye got an A in my book, and there were enough onions and melty cheese to keep up with my favorite Philly cheese steaks.
Our friend Caroline got the #7- a prosciutto sandwich with fresh mozzarella, roasted red peppers, and pesto on roll- with chicken added to it as well. She claimed that it rivaled her favorite tomato mozzarella panini at Atticus. The prosciutto was a delicious touch to a pretty plain classic, and something you don’t typically at many other sandwich places in New Haven.
Lauren ordered on the healthy side with a salad and omelet. The marinated chicken salad came with sundried cranberries, Granny Smith apples, and caramelized walnuts with a side of balsamic vinaigrette. Lauren thought that the apple-chicken combo was superb, and she said it is now one of her favorite salads in New Haven. The balsamic vinaigrette in particular stole the show, neither oily nor overpowering, and it complemented the sweetness of the fruits perfectly.
The omelet was exquisite. Lauren topped hers with cheese, onions, and peppers, and absolutely loved the outcome. If you like your omelets well-done and non-buttery like she does, you’ll love Zoi’s omelets too. Flavorful, fresh, and filling, it was her favorite part of the meal.
Carolina got another sandwich, the #8, which is supposedly the most popular one on their menu, and she can tell why. It came on a fresh, light roll with a generous portion of homemade chicken cutlets, smoked mozzarella, bacon, and chipotle mayo. The chipotle mayo was spicy but not overpowering, and the chicken cutlets were lightly crispy on the outside and perfectly seasoned. Goodbye anything at gheav, hello #8. It was that good. She wants everyone who likes chicken cutlets to try it, because it was perfection.
Somehow, after eating all of that food, we decided that we were still hungry and ordered two sides of french fries–one regular and one sweet potato. It was a great decision. The sweet potato fries were on the soft side and practically melted in our mouths.
The regular fries were just the opposite, and outstanding at that—perfectly crispy, but not too crunchy nor dry. We think the kitchen might have fried them twice to achieve that perfect texture. They were definitely up there among the best fries we’ve eaten in New Haven– see our Rudy’s post for their biggest rival.
Overall: Zoi’s is a hidden gem on Orange St. and Grove just blocks away from campus, and it’s well worth the walk. There are so many items on the menu that you could probably go back once a week for the rest of the semester and not even get close to trying everything. It’s hard not to rave about everything when everything was truly delicious. You can’t go wrong with anything we tried at Zoi’s, so we hope you take our word for it and give it a shot. It’s warm out so we can’t blame our laziness on the cold anymore. Think of it as your daily exercise or something. Enjoy!