Union Park Tapas Restaurant Delayed

Restaurant still planned for former Joe V's space.

Originally slated to open in May, the Japanese Tapas restaurant planned for the vacant Joe V's restaurant space on Union Park is running a bit behind.

Renovations are now slated to begin this month, with a grand opening tentatively planned for late September, the Union Park Neighborhood Association reported in its monthly newsletter. The original plan as presented to the neighborhood association in January is reportedly still intact.

Once open, Zia will offer a unique type of cuisine that is new to Boston and New England, according to those involved in the enterprise.

The restaurant will specialize in yakitori, a chicken dish made from several bite-size pieces of meat skewered and grilled over charcoal.

“It’s extremely popular in Japan, it’s where people go after work,” said consultant Kerianne Panos of the dish, which is often served with salt or a special tare sauce.

The restaurant’s menu will revolve around fresh fare that’s cooked simply, Panos said - fresh vegetables will be a staple. Customers can watch their meals being cooked on a large grill located at the center of the dining room.

“You’ll actually see the chef, who’s coming over from Japan for this restaurant, grilling in front of you,” Panos said.

Owner Kazu Aotani is known for his Snappy Sushi restaurants in Back Bay and Somerville.

Renovations on the corner space are expected to take six weeks and are mostly cosmetic, but will likely include improvements to the bathroom, which is not currently handicapped accessible.

Unlike other nearby eateries, Zai will not offer valet parking and plans to cater exclusively to South End residents, those involved said. Dishes will cost between $2-12.


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