63. 11-29 Z Square, 14 JFK Street. Summary: Strange setup, good service, food needs work.
After peering in the windows of Z Square a couple times, and giving them time to work through service issues (every restaurant needs time to get its service down, I think), I gave it a go with Susan, an aquaintance.
The biggest surprise about this place is its size. From the sidewalk it looks like a small cafe - and it is, at that level. But downstairs opens up into a very large seating area, one that I would guess could handle 200 diners. It's all nicely decorated, kind of chic. But I found it a bit weird that you really can't get a sense of the restaurant from the street.
I had a white bean soup - it was nice, but there was an interesting and somewhat off-setting flavor to it that I couldn't quite identify. It seemed like an asian-style herb or spice, which I found odd for such a classic Italian, hearty dish. I followed this with a special: penne pasta with chicken and a mushroom/tomato sauce. I found the sauce too heavy - almost like a stew.
The sevice was excellent. But for the price - about $13 per person - I expected better food. I rank Z Square about the same at Grafton Street - good locations, trendy atmosphere, food good but not great.