Zaza’s Pastas


Julie Parisi, owner of Zaza’s Pastas in Iowa City, is a new Featured Chef this year and we’re very excited to have the opportunity to share with you her passion for authentic, local Italian cuisine. Zaza’s ‘top three ingredients’ seem to be: community, family and local food. “Hey Jules!”, “Those are our favorite things!”- to quote Nacho Libre.

To no surprise, Julie and our Chef Ambassador would connect instantly upon meeting. Chef Gaby has a keen eye for finding high-quality ingredients produced by the most talented (and passionate) individuals and from this a life-long partnership with Jules sprung. Gaby is certain that whenever “pasta” (or ANY Italian specialty, really) makes it in her menu, Julie is the gal to call.

“I love coming to Zaza’s shop to watch the master work her craft. Julie’s hands are firm, loving, and strong and for me they represent the seasoning that makes her products the absolute best. It’s like those childhood memories many of us chefs describe when watching a loved one cook. In my case it was my grandmother. The intensity of their passion transmits through their hands and into the food. It’s cozy, warm and it feels like home. For me, that’s Zaza.” Says Chef Gaby about Julie’s secret blend of love and local ingredients.

We love Julie’s background story and below she tells us a little bit more about her enthusiasm for made-from-scratch pasta, and what keeps her going in the kitchen.

Grab some pasta for dinner at these local locations and come on out the the Iowa City Culinary Ride for more!

Top three ingredients?

Lemon zest, crushed red pepper flakes, olives.

Beer, wine or martini?

I love a super hoppy beer!

Typical dinner?

Pasta, olive oil, sautéed local veg and a hefty grating of Parmigiano Reggiano.

Favorite kitchen tool?

Microplane. I think I would be lost without it!

Chicken or beef?


I never get tired of…

Pasta. I’m serious. NEVER.

Everybody should get more…

Vitamin D. Myself included. We should go outside way more often.

Favorite music in the kitchen?

Motown Classics. Is that weird?

How many bikes do you own?


Favorite local farm you work with?

J.T.’s Naturally Organic. I just love their stuff. I’m never disappointed.


Ride on Jules.