At Zoli's NY Pizza Tavern, Dessert Is No Joke

Just try and resist these little devils
Just try and resist these little devils
Kellie Reynolds

"Made for dadbods by dadbods" read the sign outside Zoli's when I swung by for lunch last week. Inside, a large unicorn head is mounted on the dining room wall. It hangs catty-corner to a painting of a stormtrooper riding a stallion. They made a "white girls" pizza to mock those two broads who got kicked out of the Kessler. Obviously, these guys have a sense of humor.

Dessert, though — they take that seriously. In the past, Zoli's has served up some foodporntastic Nutella rolls, but the current menu spotlights the diavoletti, a confection worthy of a special trip out to Oak Cliff.

According to my research (asking my nonna), "diavoletti" roughly translates to "little devils," referring to delicious nibbles of fried dough covered in powdered sugar, sea salt caramel, and Nutella. It speaks to Zoli's personality: designed for the common man, but elevated beyond funnel cake by the delicate architecture it takes on.

Zoli's is definitely a working-class joint. A busy lunch shift finds it filled with construction workers still wearing their fluorescent vests. A table of cops share a pie. Then there's me, trying to talk myself out of ordering the diavoletti after already having wolfed down a slice of the Lady Marmalade, a butter-soaked garlic knot, and the better part of a house salad. I made it all the way to the car, but my keys never saw the ignition. I wasn't going to leave until I tried those damn things.

I should have brought a friend, I thought when the towering spire of dough landed on my table in its shiny UFO of a mixing bowl. Soon, though, I found I had no shortage of friends. Diners at neighboring tables craned their necks to see the dessert, asking, wide-eyed, "What is THAT?"

I did my best to polish the whole thing off, but I caved when offered a to-go box. On my way out, I noticed a ripple effect: fresh orders of diavoletti being delivered for all the eyeballers. Hopefully, they were able to make more of a dent in it than I did.

Next time, diavoletti, I'm coming back just for you. And I'm bringing back-up. A dessert like this requires the aid of friends: to share in the pleasure of face-stuffing fried dough, to check your face for powdered sugar, and to help you detect any traces of unicorn tears.


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