Zula Restaurant and Wine Bar at 1400 Race Street in OTR continues development as owner Vik Silberberg aims for a January opening. We spoke with Vik about his vision for Zula and how things were progressing (among other stories for another time). This is part 2 of our coverage on Zula. Zula Restaurant OTR part one.
“Zula” – The Name
Zula is a slang word used in Israel to describe a hideout place or secret stash. Picture 12 year olds running through the woods; sun filtering through the trees as they remove a plank from an old wooden shed to reveal their hideout complete with comic books and candies. A zula is a warm place that you invite your friends to get away: “come to my zula”. And while the restaurant Zula is neither small (4000+ square feet) nor hidden away (adjacent to the magnificent Music Hall and OTR’s revitalized hub in Washington Park, and also across from the recently opened Anchor Bar OTR), Vik hopes that it can remain a cool little place where you take your inner circle.
A Walk Through Zula OTR
You will enter on Race street through a great front door and look to your right at the main bar which traces much of the south wall and takes your gaze back to a huge wood burning oven that alights the room with flickering flames; a huge iron “ZULA” on its face ensuring that you know where you are. The front room will be filled with people sitting down enjoying tapas plates, Mediterranean flat breads and a choice wine from an extensive list. The walls to your right and behind you will be adorned with windows providing a perfect frame for the new Washington Park.
To your left, through a huge steel entryway, is a more intimate room where a group of friends will sit at a long high table; at the end of which a chef will be slicing up fresh ingredients and preparing meals with a mirror above so everyone can follow along.
As you look again to the main room, at the very back you can see chefs feverishly preparing meals in an open kitchen, their faces lit by the glow of the oven.
Behind the kitchen are stairs leading to the basement which will be the engine behind the whole operation. It is in the basement where all of the breads, pastries, sauces and seasonings will be made by Vik and his team as well as storage and refrigeration.
As you walk to the back of the space, you discover to your left another little room with exposed brick that opens up to the outside courtyard. This room will be used as the rest of the restaurant fills up, and is also available to section off for more private functions. Goose Alley embraces you outside and Vik hopes to one day have a retractable roof to manage the fickle Cincinnati weather.
Zula hopes to add to what is becoming a venerable stable of OTR restaurants in the Gateway Quarter and Washington Park areas of Over the Rhine. Vik hopes that each time you come in will be a new experience and something interesting based on where you sit, the environment you experience and what you order; no matter the price point. We hope that by January, everyone will have a private little zula to take their friends.