For those Verona residents who have been awaiting the arrival of a new kind of restaurant in town, your patience has been rewarded with Zaferon Grill. Nestled on Bloomfield Avenue where Domino’s Pizza resided for years, the space has been transformed into a cozy bistro with soft lighting, beautiful photography, and an amazing menu that melds American Bistro with Mediterranean flavors. This is just what Soody Nelson was going for when she opened the doors to Zaferon Grill on February 10 of this year. Nelson, a Persian native, has a passion for creating things that are different and unique. Owning a restaurant was a new challenge for her, but with an eye for design and a palette for delicious food, it’s been a rewarding adventure for her and the restaurant’s executive chef, Luis Ramirez.
Nelson’s love of food and time spent together over a meal, comes from her mother who always cooked using fresh ingredients, fruit from trees in the yard, and native spices. Growing up, friends and families always felt that her mother’s love flowed through her food. As a new restauranteur, Nelson has chosen to do the same with one of their most popular dishes, Nana’s Favorite Lamb. This saffron infused lamb shank is a dish Nelson made for her mother and Ramirez adapted to make his own for the restaurant. Another favorite dish among guests is the braised short ribs, but Nelson’s favorites are the seafood dishes, especially the salmon.
Although not promoting the restaurant as specifically farm-to-table, an important core facet of the model for Nelson is to use fresh ingredients from local farms where possible and hormone- and antibiotic-free meats. To that end, Ramirez is in the process of building a new menu for spring which will include seasonal fresh items such as jicama, corn, berries and more salads.
“My passion was in creating something different,” Nelson said about Zaferon Grill. The infusion of Mediterranean and American leaves room to design and create unique dishes and plenty of opportunity to experiment. But it’s not just about the food. Nelson strives to give her customers “an experience they would like to repeat.” For her, the décor, service and customer interaction is as important as the food. In her first two months of operation, Nelson has been “pleasantly overwhelmed” by the people she has met in town who have come to the restaurant. Her goal is to continue to consistently offer good food and good service and to never disappoint her customers.
Zaferon Grill, at 648 Bloomfield Avenue, is open for lunch and dinner every day except Monday. Lunch hours are 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m, and dinner begins at 5:00 p.m. They offer catering to outside locations and also host events at the restaurant. In the coming months, Saturday and Sunday brunch may be added to the hours of operation. Reservations can be made by calling 973-433-7533 or by using Open Table.