In our Lunching in Little Rock blog series, Michael Kirkpatrick will explore and review the city’s best restaurants – all in time to get back to the office. This week, Michael ate lunch at ZAZA Fine Salad & Wood Oven Pizza Co.

The Thanksgiving holiday is over and fridges are still full of leftovers. Are you stuffed with stuffing? Have you tried every turkey-reheating trick in the book? At my house, we even tried turkey burritos. If you’re sick of leftovers or you need to keep it light between holiday parties, change up the menu with ZAZA Fine Salad & Wood Oven Pizza Co. Their delicious salads will keep you trim during the pound-packing month of December.

ZAZA is not just a place to eat great food; they redefined and raised the bar for restaurant style in Little Rock. Nestled in The Heights, the chic interior is always bustling with a wide variety of patrons. The smell from the wood fire pizza oven is mouthwatering and it’s hard to remind yourself you’re here for salad.

As I wait in line to order my handmade salad of fresh ingredients, I find myself only reading the gourmet pizza menu, and before I know it I am ordering one: the Quattro Stagioni, which is topped with prosciutto, roasted mushrooms, Kalamata olives and artichoke hearts. Just to be on the healthy side, I went ahead and ordered a half size of my favorite salad, the Santa Fe South. My salad was full of romaine, fried chicken, white cheddar cheese, avocado, black beans, cilantro, cherry tomatoes, corn, red cabbage and topped with tortilla strips and southwestern ranch dressing.

I love how the salads are made right in front of you. The speed at which they assemble them is amazing. It takes me 20 minutes just to peel an avocado. My salad is ready by the time I make it to the register, and I take a seat at the bar to watch the pizza masters as they make the pies. It’s mesmerizing to watch them toss the dough and slide the pizzas into the 700-degree oven.

I ate all of my salad and only had a small sampling of the pizza so I could take it back to share with the office. Leftover pizza goes a lot faster than leftover Thanksgiving. Don’t forget about the house-made gelato with premium seasonal ingredients – it may be better than pumpkin pie!