Zavino Makes its own Uncola

Pizza and house-made soda at Zavino
Pizza and house-made soda at Zavino Photo: Michael Persico

Steve Gonzalez, chef and owner of Midtown Village’s popular pizza and wine bar Zavino, enjoys few things in this world more than a piece of pizza and an orange soda to wash it down. However he also has some strong opinions on overly sweetened, high fructose corn syrup-laden soft drinks. So rather than serve them, he came up with what he believes is a better plan: He makes his own sodas, using all-natural ingredients. “The big thing for me was to offer something besides Coca Cola,” Gonzalez told Grub Street. “I didn’t want to have one of those crappy soda guns in my restaurant.”

To make his sodas, Gonzalez starts with fresh fruit that is either juiced or pureed to make a base. Then he adds soda water, which is run through a filtration system and carbonated on the premises. “Then we stir and serve it,” Gonzalez said. “Its really that simple.”

The flavors are typically inspired by the seasons and availability of ingredients, many of which are sourced directly from Lancaster County farmers. “We have blackberry, rhubarb, lemon-lime and orange,” Gonzalez said. “Just today we put a strawberry soda on too.” Going forward, he plans to offer peach and raspberry sodas as those ingredients come into season. Still not all of his creations have gone over well with customers. “We were doing vanilla soda for a while, but it was freaking people out,” he said. “Real vanilla beans in soda tends to look a little dirty - kind of like brown swamp water.”

Zavino Makes its own Uncola