Zz Kitchen showcases 'classic gourmet cuisine'

There’s a new food cart making waves at the parking lot at Conn’s Pond on Route 202 in New Milford.

Patti and Ted Zaloski opened Zz Kitchen mid-May. Since then, it has grown in popularity and is establishing a steady stream of regulars, as well as new customers.

“I feel like I’m home again,” Patti said during an interview at Zz Kitchen, which overlooks the well-known body of water known for its resident turtles. “It seems like I’m meant to be here.”

Patti previously owned the Patti Waggin, which opened in 2010 and called Conn’s Pond home for several years, and ran food operations at two sites in New Preston.

She stepped away from that after five years and since then, met and married Ted, and helped open the kitchen at the revitalized Sunoco on Route 202 in New Milford.

Her love of food and cooking drew her back into the business this spring.

“I missed everyone,” she said of her time away from the kitchen. “It feels good to be back.”

The Zaloskis describe their food as “classic gourmet cuisine on wheels.”

The menu boasts more than a traditional food cart with hot dogs.

Customers will find options such as Black Angus burgers, hot dogs on grilled buns, red hots, tacos, Patti melts, mac and cheese, grilled cheese sandwiches and knockwurst and sausage.

In addition, a variety of specials — named for Patti’s family members and friends — are on a special board set out next to the cart.

Toppings, including kraut and spicy kraut, hot dog slaw, cheese, bacon, sautéed/carmelized/BBQ onions and Patti’s mom’s chili recipe - add a special touch to the basic offerings.

The cole slaw, chili and cheese fondue on the menu are recipes that belonged to Patti’s mother, who died in April, a month before the food cart opened.

“Everything I cook works with everything, so you can mix it up,” she said, describing how she creates so many options for the menu.

The couple also noted they can make vegan options, often using vegetables from their garden.

In the fall, Patti said she will serve clam chowder, chili bowls and some sort of twist on a Philly Cheesesteak.

“I love it,” Bruce Morsey of Kent Hollow Siding said of Zz Kitchen. “Construction people don’t have time to stop and have a full meal. I like that I can grab a quick meal and go back to work.”

A regular, Morsey said he likes the chili dog.

Hy Ruwet of Ruwet & Sibley in town has been to the food cart a handful of times.

“It’s a nice, classy operation they’ve got,” he said, adding he’s been “very happy” with the food he’s had there.

A self-described “hot dog nut,” Ruwet said the Zaloskis do a “nice job.”

Patti emphasized the ingredients in her food. She doesn’t use sugar, but rather supplements with honey, and uses the highest quality of ingredients.

Patti emphasized how she puts her heart into cooking and how, when it’s done with “love and passion,” it comes out well.

Cooking on site at the pond brings Patti joy. “It’s a gift for me to give,” Patti said. “There’s a good energy here, with the pond and the animals.”

A small table with an umbrella and three chairs are set next to the customized food cart that was built in Michigan. A few picnic tables are off to the side of the pond, where customers can sit to eat.

Motorists often honk to say hello, and Patti and Ted extend their greetings with waves to passersby throughout the day.

Many customers know Patti and/or Ted from their previous involvement in the community.

Ted was a teacher in the school system for 36 years and then taught college for 15 years. Patti is from a large family and owned the Patti Waggin, where she established connections with members of the community.

Now that the couple has their own business, both of them meet people from their past.

“Someone comes up to me and says, ‘Hey, you were my teacher,’” Ted commented.

For Patti, many customers have expressed their delight to have her serving food again.

The business owner has positive memories of food stands as part of her childhood, when her dad would take her to Compo Beach and they’d get chili dogs.

While working at the former Matteo’s in New Milford, she expressed an interest in cuisine and learned on the job, training under about a half dozen chefs from New Milford to Litchfield.

“It meant a lot that they would take the time to (train me),” she said.

That led her to eventually open the Patti Waggin.

Zz Kitchen is located at 29 Park Lane Road (Route 202), at Conn’s Pond. The cart, which will be at the site for three years, is open Tuesdays through Fridays from 11 am. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. It will be open through at least Nov. 1. For more information, call 860-806-1380.