Credit: JB / BD

The Guys Who Ate Brno, Vol. I: ZAZA

Introducing Brno Daily’s new gastronomic adventurers, James and Lee, better known as The Guys Who Ate Brno, on a two-man mission to.. well, eat Brno. Together they will take you on a tour around some of the notable eateries of the Moravian metropolis, starting with the recently opened gourmet pizza bar ZAZA, at Vachova 4… 

Lee: Back in the 1980s, Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger were duking it out to become the biggest Hollywood action star of all time. At the peak of their feud, Sly made a movie called “Cobra,” perhaps the most ‘80s of all ‘80s cop thrillers.

In an attempt to out-macho his rival, he played Marion Cobretti, a maverick detective who is so badass that he wears Aviators and black leather gloves even while having dinner at home. He’s even a nonconformist when it comes to eating leftover pizza – taking a box from the fridge, he cuts the tip off a slice with a pair of scissors, and munches it cold while cleaning his gun. Take that, Arnie! Even the Austrian Oak would probably heat it up first.

This is my first restaurant review after 10 years as a film critic and I was delighted that our first pick was right in my wheelhouse: ZAZA, a new Neapolitan-style pizza joint in central Brno that offers you a chance to dine like Cobra. But more on that later…

James: As my dining partner and fellow reviewer is also the biggest movie geek I know, we discussed the potential for other restaurants in Brno inspired by action movies. Sticking with the Sly Stallone theme, we pondered the possibility of Tango & Cash, a cafe that serves purely carbonated soft drinks and only accepts payment in hard currency.

Lee: Probably only Brits and serious Anglophiles will get that, but I’m leaving it in! Anyway, ZAZA is located on Vachova not far from bar street in downtown Brno. From the outside, it has a utilitarian look with bare windows and the air of a repurposed commercial unit. Inside, it’s a small place with a diner-style vibe and a young and buzzy atmosphere. There are only about seven closely spaced tables and some more seating shoulder-to-shoulder at the bar. 

James: We noticed the bare wiring that looks like that because it’s trendy, and also, coincidentally, it’s the kind that your mate Honza can fix up for you on Thursday after tennis.

“From the outside, ZAZA has a utilitarian look with bare windows and the air of a repurposed commercial unit.” Credit: TGWAB

Lee: The vibe was energetic and chatty, not to mention overlit from the spots above each table to provide maximum light for the Instagrammable pies. Fully illuminated on a dark street, it looks like Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks,” just busier and with happier clientele. Viewing from outside after night fell, I suddenly understood those bare windows: It’s a place to see and be seen, maybe not the kind of venue for an intimate date or a strategic business dinner.

We ordered Negronis and a starter to share, focaccia with romesco sauce and black olive tapenade, from our welcoming but somewhat harried server. This was where one of the first service issues came in. The starter arrived a good few minutes before the drinks. I don’t know about you, but I like to have a libation on hand while I’m eating and I didn’t feel like getting started until the cocktails arrived.

James: While we were waiting for the drinks I became fascinated by the pictures on the back wall. They appear to be AI-generated classical paintings with pizza in. This is a nice touch but it appears that they forgot to be specific with the prompt and just asked for “Renaissance paintings with pizza”, instead of “Italian Renaissance paintings with pizza.” Some of the paintings have a distinctly Northern Renaissance vibe, and whilst the burghers of Amsterdam were certainly at the forefront of technological, philosophical, economic and cultural innovation of the period, I reckon the Neopolitans still had the edge when it came to putting sauce on dough. 

This is an exceptionally pedantic observation to make, but I thought it was worth mentioning because this is the first occasion I’ve ever been able to get professional use from three years studying A-Level Art History (a two year course but I had to repeat a year) and it’s time I saw some return on the investment.

Lee: When the Negronis made their belated appearance, they were well mixed – not too bitter, and with a massive ice cube to keep them chilled without diluting the flavour too much..

James: Yes, the Negronis punched well over their weight. The owner’s experience from cocktail bar Botanic shows. One slight niggle was the coasters, which are the annoying glossy ones that suction to the bottom of your glass the moment a drop of condensation forms. 

When I took a sip, mine dropped onto the floor, rolled across the room, and almost tripped the server. I chased after it on all-fours under every table, hitting my head on each with a humorous clang that increased in pitch with each collision… is almost certainly what I would be saying if I hadn’t turned the coaster over to use the side that’s supposed to go underneath.

Negronis: punching above their weight. Credit: TGWAB

Lee: We tucked into the starter. The bread was excellent, still warm by the time we got around to eating, lightly toasted with a good crust and soft in the middle. The spreads were a mixed bag, however. The romesco sauce was pleasant but seriously underpowered, suffering further in comparison with the tapenade. The robust umami of the latter – well-balanced, salty-acidic but not overwhelming – made the romesco seem pretty wishy-washy. I have to confess that this is the first time I’ve written the word “umami” in an article because I’ve never been 100% sure of the correct usage, which is where having a foodie like James across the table really helps.

James: So…umami is often described as the fifth flavour, the others being sweet, sour, salty, bitter. It is a savoury flavour. I think the best way to describe it is the flavour of the brown crust you get on a nicely grilled piece of meat or a fried mushroom. It’s also very present in fermented products like soy sauce or worcestershire sauce. 

Black olive tapenade. Credit: The Guys Who Ate Brno.

Lee: Then we were onto the main event, the pizzas. We opted for a Diavola with salami and something I couldn’t identify or pronounce…

James: Nduja? It’s like a spicy salami in a semi-liquid form.

Lee: You mean… like a meat paste? Yeah, so a Salami and meat paste pizza. And, from customer reviews I’ve read, what appears to be the star attraction: mortadella with pistachios. James switched to wine and I chose a crisp Beskydský beer to wash down my food.

Two blunders followed. After a lengthy wait, our server told us that she’d forgotten to place the order with the cook and we’d have to sit tight for a little longer. We didn’t mind too much, and she gave us a complimentary bowl of juicy green olives to munch on while we passed the time. That was a welcome gesture.

When the pizzas finally arrived, the order was wrong. Now we had a pancetta and rocket pie instead of a diavola. We were partly to blame because when our server repeated our order back to us after the delay, we simply agreed without registering the inadvertent substitution.

James: My mistake.

Lee: No, I heard it too, but it didn’t click. That error worked out fine though. I got to try a pizza topping that I wouldn’t normally order because I usually hate gnawing on rocket stalks. As it happened, it was my favourite of the two.

James: I should probably preface this by saying neither I nor Lee are particularly into cream pizzas, but mortadella and pistachio is a classic and came recommended so we wanted to give it a go. Unfortunately it wasn’t for us. What I enjoy about food like pizza is that you can make every bite taste different based on the way the elements of the topping are distributed and how you choose to attack it: Who, like our dear friend Cobra, doesn’t have their own individual style of disassembling a slice? But the ingredients and flavours on this pizza had no space to present their personalities, and we both found the taste quite homogenous. Additionally, while the dough had a nice bit of char top-side it was a little underdone underneath. 

Mortadella and pistachio pizza. Credit: TGWAB

 Lee: The pancetta and rocket pizza was very good, though. The tomato sauce was punchy and contrasted nicely with the smokiness of the ham. As for the rocket… at least there wasn’t a whole punnet-load on top like in some pizza restaurants. 

James: I love a bit of rocket on my pizza. It can be a problem if it gets wilted and stringy (such as when it takes too long to get to the table), but this was fresh and bouncy. 

Lee: Perhaps the highlight of the meal were the scissors. I did a little research and apparently it isn’t just Sly Stallone and ZAZA customers who eat pizza like this – it is a thing. Although I initially suspected it was just a gimmick, I soon found out why it is such a good choice. 

Pancetta and rocket pizza. Credit: TGWAB

Whereas a regular pizza cutter invariably ends up with a pie pre-cut into uniform slices and eating with a knife and fork results in tiny bite-size pieces, having at it with a pair of scissors is fun and surprisingly liberating. It’s just like being back in arts & crafts class as a kid, snipping off pieces to suit your whim and imagination at any given moment. So Cobra had it right all these years!

Overall, our trip to ZAZA was good but not excellent. It might have been an off-night, but it was a meal where the atmosphere and experience outshone the food itself. That said, I will definitely return as it is still one of the best pizza restaurants in central Brno. 

Handily, it is also directly opposite Nálevna, a modern-nostalgic Czech pub that makes a great spot for a post-meal nightcap… or a tray of retro shots in James’s case!


Vachova 46/4, 602 00 Brno-střed

Tel: 775 883 088

Opening hours: 16:30 – 23:00 weekdays, 11:30 – 23:00 Saturday, Closed on Sunday

Socials: Facebook, Instagram

Reservations strongly recommended


We split the bill and paid around 600 Kč each for two cocktails, one starter to share, one wine, one beer, and two pizzas.


I appreciate that the issues mentioned in the review would be enough for some people to leave a negative rating. However, our server dealt with the problems well and it didn’t put a dent in our overall experience. Plus, as I noted previously, this was just one visit, so it could have been an off night. That said, the food wasn’t quite good enough to warrant a top rating.

Lee: 3 stars (Good)

There are some things that need improving here. The seriously wonky table, the coasters, the service that was polite but not without problems – we’ve nitpicked a bit and things can be forgiven if the food was perfect, but it wasn’t quite there. With that said, this is still probably the best pizza in Brno centre. 

James: 3.5 stars (I will return) 

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