Dessert - FOOD - "The Delicious" - Italian

The new and the old at UIUC: Cocomero and Za’s

November 11, 2009

The Quad is so pretty in the fall!

The Quad is so pretty in the fall!

I’ve been promising my baby sis that I would visit her in college this year. She happens to be attending my alma mater, University of IL at Urbana-Champaign (I-L-L-I-N-I!), which is a good 2.5 hour drive south of the Chicago burbs. I haven’t been back since I graduated years ago! I was excited to see what has changed-slash-stayed the same since I was there last.

The main street, Green St., had become a lot more commercialized – Starbucks, Urban Outfitters, Chipotle, Noodles & Co., Dunkin’ Donuts. Panera also moved over from John St. to right next to Follet’s bookstore…and I know none of you understand what I’m talking about unless you went to U of I…

Anyway…I was really happy to see that Za’s was still sitting in it’s original place though! Za’s was one of my favorite quick stops for Italian, where you can customize your own thin-crust personal size pizzas, pastas, and paninis. It’s also where I decided I like pineapples on my pizza…



Right on the corner of Green and Wright there, there was another obvious change – the dimly-lit cafe, Moonstruck was no longer there. It was replaced by a frozen yogurt joint, Cocomero, decorated in all types of fluorescents.



It opened just earlier this year in April.

We walked in and my first thought was – this kinda looks like the inside of a bathroom. A far departure from the warm colors of Moonstruck, the walls were now decorated with little skittle-colored tilings and the dim lights were replaced by much brighter ones.


But what it lacks in ambiance, it totally makes up in their frozen yogurt. And since I love putting my family and friends on the spot for BATF, I asked my sister to introduce it to you here:

[BTW, She loves Pinkberry but I somehow confused her and got her to say Red Mango — which I prefer — is better…score!]

So, yeah. Basically, the three main things that are different about this place from the gazillion other fro-yo places I’ve been to at least, is (a) it’s self-serve, (b) they have a ton of flavors, and (c) you pay by weight.

I'm pretty sure I had about 7 different flavors in my cup alone. I don't do well with options.

I'm pretty sure I had about 7 different flavors in my cup alone. I don't do well with options.

Sorry, mine was really a mess...I should have made it look more pretty for you all...

Sorry, mine was really a mess...I should have made it look more pretty for you all...

You can help yourself to as much of the 16 flavors your heart desires (sorry, my sister said 25 in the video but it’s really 16…sorry Haj). Flavors include blueberry, green tea, original tart, mango, and peach. Then top it with your choice from a buffet of sweet and crunchy toppings (my favorites: mochi and cheesecake bits!). You end up getting a lot more for your money – most will pay between 3-$5.

I guess it could stay.

Though in a one-day visit, I obviously couldn’t take the food tour I wanted to of all the food I’ve been craving since graduation.

So, honorable mentions of what else I miss at U of I:

  • Pokey Sticks from Gumby’s: Garlic bread topped with mozzarella
  • Burrito Fajitas at Dos Reales. Never had a burrito quite as good.
  • Gyros from Niro’s.
  • The Cookie Monster at Cheddar’s: Fresh-out-the-oven warm cookie, topped with ice cream, chocolate syrup, whip cream, and chopped nuts.
  • Listening to the guy with the ukulele perform on open-mic Tuesday nights at the Espresso Royale on Goodwin. (Do they still have that??)
  • White Turtle Mocha at Busey-Evans’ Late Night.
  • Man, I’m fat.

    Do YOU miss any restaurants from your college campus?

    17 thoughts on “The new and the old at UIUC: Cocomero and Za’s

    1. Sabrina

      Wow. You and your sister look NOTHING alike. It’s nice to see that there are other siblings out there who resemble each other NOT AT ALL like me and my big sis. Also, props to your baby sister for getting mochi bits in her ice cream. My kind of girl:)

    2. Nadia

      My favorite from U of I is definitely dos reales.
      And I was really sad to see when I went back recently that Green St. was so commercialized!
      The cookie monster at Cheddar’s is great, but my favorite is the virgin strawberry daquiri. Mmm I want one right now.
      But yeah last time I was in Champaign for a day, all we did was eat.

    3. shyema Post author

      Sabrina: My sisters and I are permanently confused about how much we do or don’t look alike…some people say we look exactly alike, others say we don’t resemble each other at all! We resemble a lot of our cousins quite a bit too..And yes, we love mochi :)

      Nadia: I’m so sad I didn’t make it to dos reales…but we can only eat so much. sigh. I was really craving it! i dont think these youngin’s understand how amazing it is…

    4. Sabrina

      Hey. I wasn’t done! Dammit. I was also saying that my sister and I get that too. Some people don’t even know we’re related, and other people are all, “OMG, are you guys like, twins?!?!?!” One day we stood in front of the mirror together and examined one against the other for like 10 minutes — literally, like head to toe, feature to feature. Our conclusion? We have the same mannerisms, but we don’t look anything alike. But you’re right, everyone sees “resemblance” differently.

    5. shyema Post author

      Hooma, she uses a sephora eyeliner pencil! (right, Haj? I hope my little sister reads my blog)

      And Sabrina, that’s an interesting way to look at it…between my two sisters, I think I’m more like Haj in mannerisms…this is so funny how this post is turning into food/makeup/sibling relationships. I love <3

    6. Sabrina Siddiqui

      I’m still not sure what to do about this other Sabrina. :)

      But I miss tons of places from Northwestern. We always used to do Thai at either Thai Sookdee or Cozy Noodle, two pretty popular places in downtown Evanston. And then there was Koi, the Pan-Asian place “let’s do everyone’s birthday here” restaurant. :) Of course, Giordano’s was a big thing…McSA used to do Mon night Giordanos. I get so sad when I think of how long ago it was that I went to my first outing there freshman year – and had my first Chicago-style pizza!

      There are honestly so many…plus some shake/coffee/tea spots, like Kafein, which is a long-standing signature hangout, and Cafe Ambrosia which I heard got BOUGHT OVER (who buys over iconic student hangouts??) At this point I even miss chains like Noodles & Co. and Argo Tea, which are not exclusive to Evanston by any means, but it was just a ‘thing’ to go and grab a bite/drink there.

    7. shyema Post author

      OMG. I got REALLY hungry reading that. like for real. for real.

      Sidrah, I wish it were flawless…i have a very love/hate relationship with skincare!!!! But rest assured when I find a holy grail product, it’ll be on here first!

    8. Sabrina

      Nothing can be done! Except this: Sabrina, meet me in an alley for a duel* one day. Or night. This will be weather-dependent because I get cold easily. Shyema, bring your camera, and frozen yogurt. Winner gets to eat BOTH cups. (Or all three depending on if Shyema was able to carry that much to the alley. )

      *Type of duel, and rules TBA.

      P.S. F-Y-Izzy. I’m SICK at thumb war. Consider yourself warned.

    9. shyema Post author

      Uh..oh…No one gave me the memo about fiesty Sabrina(s). We should have a Sabrina-Off…through pictures. Whoever produces the best pictures of a recent meal wins..something fun. Yes? I have to make it relevant guys. You all may de-claw now.

    10. Sabrina

      You win. Although I would *really* like to see you in a rage, start to slur, and headbutt a stranger. (I’m not the stranger…uh…just so you know.)

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