Quick and inexpensive restaurant options are, for the most part, relegated to deep-fat fried fast-food options and bread-heavy deli sandwiches. But Z’Marik’s Noodle Cafe is offering another option for Clive diners.
Z’Marik’s is located in a strip mall on University Avenue — it has one other location in Iowa City. It has a long, narrow dining room with high ceilings, exposed duct work, hanging lamps, corrugated metal accents and warm paint colors. The kitchen is open to the dining room, offering background noise for diners sitting on the restaurant’s heavy wood chairs.
The menu includes dishes made with noodles or rice, as well as salads, soups and variations on classic macaroni. The food spans from Italian to Greek and Asian, with several options for vegetable or protein add-ons as well as an opportunity to order small or large portion sizes. We ordered at the register and the food arrived at our table in less than five minutes.
My dining partner tried the Z’Marinara bowl, a generous serving of penne pasta with a dash of marinara that was sprinkled with Romano cheese and parsley. He ordered six meatballs to accompany it and was glad he did, as the quarter-sized add-ons packed moisture and flavor that paired well with the plain noodles after he ran out of sauce. Another ladle of the otherwise flavorful marinara would have made a major difference in his happiness with the dish.
I ordered the Z’Garlic Mac, cavatappi pasta smothered in cheese and sauteed chicken, garlic and red onion. The classic macaroni and cheese base was respectable, but the chicken, garlic and red onion really kicked the flavor up a level. It’s a dish worth ordering again.
The next time I’m looking for a lunch option in the area, I’ll easily consider it over other fast food options.
The regular-sized bowls more than filled us up. In fact, we had leftovers, and still had more than $5 left from our $20 budget. Next time we’ll indulge in the cookies and scotcheroos that tempt diners at the counter.
For those who appreciate a decent macaroni and cheese, Mondays at Z’Marik’s mean $4 bowls of its classic take on the childhood favorite. And as an incentive for families, kids eat free on Saturdays. But the real draw is the fact that there are few restaurants in the Clive area providing the selection, price, quickness and quality that Z’Marik’s boasts.
Z’Marinara with meatballs: $7.58
Z’Garlic Mac: $7.99
Total with tax: $14.91
Z’Marik’s Noodle Cafe
Find it: 12655 University Ave., Clive
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday
Info: 223-9605; zmariks.com