This morning, news came from owner Jay Jerrier that Zoli's will have its last day "in its current form" on Valentine's Day. So there's one more reason to hate Feb. 14.
The shuttering of Zoli's has been widely reported, and we knew it would be in 2016, but now that the time has come, all feels wrong with the pizza world. My heart wants to throw up in its mouth.
I am personally sad about this closure for many reasons. Full disclosure: Zoli's is a big supporter of my charity event, Meat Fight. Other full disclosure: I go to Zoli's just about every Saturday with my family, and we scarf down Grandma slices, zucchini fries and that damn delicious stromboli that is so good, it helped me through my dark, dark vegetarian phase. The memories with this restaurant run deep. This isn't one of those cases where a restaurant is closing and when you act all sad about it, people ask, "When was the last time you ate there, though?" and you say, "Two years ago." I was there last week, and I'll be there tonight — maybe every night until stupid Cupid rams his goddamned arrow into the heart of this greatness.
This closing will cut like a pizza cutter through a white pie for many.
The Dallas Observer has had so many ridiculously good times with the people at Zoli's: from asking them to create their own version of Pizza Hut's hot dog-stuffed crust pizza (which they now periodically sell in a similar form as a Meatzilla) to whatever this was that Scott Reitz was bitching about one time before he understood the true greatness of this place.
When the holidays rolled around and Zoli's sold Meat Wreaths, we couldn't have been happier. What will we do without the promise of a meat wreath when President's Day is here? What. Will. We. DO?
When Lee Hunzinger left Zoli's for a short time to help open a new Cane Rosso, my family was sad and noted the difference. When Hunzinger returned, my 2-year-old son cheered. When my daughter brought a drawing of a unicorn that she created for Zoli's, the next time we came in, Britt Chapman had framed the picture and hung it on the wall, officially making my daughter's 6-year lifetime of drawing unicorns worth it. It's not just the pizza, it's the people we will miss, too.
"The building is in dire need of massive and very expensive repairs, and we want to get out of there before the place becomes uninhabitable and collapses on itself like Poltergeist," says owner Jay Jerrier. "There are all kinds of tree roots causing foundation problems that would just be too much work and expense to repair. So we are going to leave on a high like George Costanza in Seinfeld."
A location in North Dallas will be the home of Zoli's 2.0. "We’re going to transition it to a sit-down pizzeria with a lot of East Coast red sauce plated dishes, pastas, sandwiches, etc. and a full bar," Jerrier says. "So Zoli’s will for sure return ... we can’t deny Dallas Lee’s amazing creations."
Fantastic, but when? "We hope to be open somewhere else by this summer," Jerrier says. "The Alamo Manhattan transaction closed in December and we have just been going month to month until they start construction anyway. They won’t start until July/August ... but it’s getting too expensive to operate in that building that’s falling down around us."
If you're as obsessed with this place as I am, get your slices in now. Give Lee and Britt hugs. Know that they'll be back. And from Feb. 15 until summertime, cry unicorn tears of sadness in memory of the glory of Zoli's 1.0.