Neighborhood Spirit

Cazzy’s Corner Grill brings a lively take on classic American cuisine to Northshore Town Center

Before the pandemic shutdown, Cazzy’s didn’t do much take-out. Rather, it made its name on relaxed business lunches, as an after-work watering hole, and as a comfortable hangout for Northshore Elementary School families. (It was named for the original owner’s daughter.)

But in the weeks when the dining room was closed, “We had crazy to-go business,” says Kitchen Manager Annie Fletcher. “It’s what’s kept us alive.” Something about the thought of the Bison Burger with Tillamook cheese, sautéed onions, garlic aioli, tomato, arugula and broccoli crowns (to name just one popular dish) kept patrons phoning in their orders. Now that the dining room is open again, Cazzy’s is finding, as we all are, a new normal. We know that many of our readers are looking for places to dine where management has made every effort to keep customers safe, and Cazzy’s does an excellent job.

With its leafy perch on the corner of Northshore Drive amid the quaint shopfronts of Thunderhead Road, Cazzy’s makes great use of its wraparound patio area. Behind plate glass windows, the L-shaped dining and bar area is small enough to feel intimate but spacious enough to give a sense of openness. We were happy to dine outside on a nice late spring afternoon and remarked how perfect this is for an after-work drink and appetizer as well as a full meal.

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Among the starters and salads, patrons can’t resist the house-recipe orange hummus topped with fried chickpeas, with scrumptious flatbread and a tzatziki Greek cucumber yogurt sauce with just the right amount of dill. It comes with a fresh and crunchy assortment of veggies perfect for dipping. Other favorites are the Unique Mushrooms in beer batter with a creamy horseradish sauce and a jumbo lump Crab Dip with flatbread.

Cazzy’s is wonderful for a group of friends, as everyone will find something to their taste.  There are burgers and chops for the carnivores, chicken and fish for the lighter side, and a robust selection of pastas, salads, and veggies for the folks on a plant-based diet. All are prepared with care and a flair for the “5th flavor” that distinguishes a great chef.

A perfect roast chicken is often used as the measure of a chef, and Fletcher’s Rotisserie chicken with demi-glace is a classically prepared dish. Pair it with some “frites” and you’d swear you’re in Paris. Another classic is the Chicken Piccata—served with just the right amount of lemon, briny capers and savory artichokes. Seafood dishes like the Cajun Etouffee of blackened cod and crawfish atop beans and rice, the Blackened Codfish Sandwich, and the Fish and Chips in Fanatic Brewing’s Red Ale beer batter reflect Chef Annie’s 10 years at Chesapeake’s, when she moved up from server to chef. “I cut down a lot of fish,” she says with a smile. “With our Cajun flavors, we are bold.”  There is just the right amount of heat to allow the flavors of the cod to shine through.

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Fletcher grew up all over the country, including two stays in Hawaii—both her parents were in the Navy. Fletcher was recruited to play shortstop/second baseman for the Lady Vols in the pre-Megan Abbott era. “We got good right after I was done,” she says, angling the corner of her mouth in a half McKayla Mulroney. 

With her wry wit, trademark newsboy cap and glasses, Fletcher resembles a wiry Tina Fey and brings that spirit to her kitchen and staff: “We’re all about casual dining.” Graduating from UT with a bachelor of fine arts in drawing, she waited tables at Patrick Sullivan’s Saloon before joining Chesapeake’s, playing for women’s traveling softball teams for eight of those years. She joined the Cazzy’s team of General Manager Aaron Smith and Owner Rob Goebel three years ago. 

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“Everything is fresh,” says Fletcher, seafood, meat, and vegetables. Many diners like to start with a Mediterranean Bowl of quinoa, spinach, avocado slices, red onion, tomato, olive, goat cheese, and cucumber. The freshness comes through in the Chimichurri Pork Tenderloin. It’s 10 ounces of achingly tender grilled pork with tangy herbed new potato salad and arugula. In the chimichurri sauce, the cilantro, parsley, and oregano are enhanced by sherry vinegar and red wine vinegar. The Shrimp and Grits—with andouille sausage, mushrooms, onion, tomato, sherry cream sauce, and super-creamy pimento cheese grits—ranks among the best in our area.  

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Make sure to cap your visit with the Panna Cotta, a generous dome of honey-flavored sweet-cream set in a pomegranate sauce with pistachio bits, milk crumbles, and whipped cream. 

With starters averaging $11 and house specialties between $17 and $25, with a center cut filet at $34, Cazzy’s fulfills the promise of a neighborhood restaurant that families can enjoy on a reasonable budget.   

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