Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Zucca - restaurant review

Taking an Italian to an Italian restaurant is always a risky business.  Particularly when the Italian in question isn't shy about expressing his opinions.  Nonetheless, we'd heard great things about Zucca, so thought we'd be on safe ground.

Zucca opened last year on Bermondsey Street, London Bridge (also home to Jose, Village East and a number of other good pubs, bars and cafes).  It's had rave reviews from critics and bloggers alike, praised for reasonable prices, use of seasonal ingredients and consistently good food.

After a delicious cocktail in Village East, (some of the best in London in my opinion, well worth stopping off here for an aperitif), we headed across the road to Zucca.

The restaurant is a Daz-doorstep-challenge-white, contemporary space largely reminiscent of an art gallery.  Flashes of orange are a reference to the name - zucca means pumpkin in Italian. 

The complimentary bread selection went down a treat, served with grassy olive oil.  My favourite was the salty focaccia.  We were also treated to a small plate of a sort of potato and chilli omelette/tortilla.
The food at Zucca is extremely reasonable, a refreshing change in London.  Starters ranged from £3.95 to £4.75.

First on the list was a generous chunk of creamy mozzarella, with a sort of courgette stew, spiked with capers and liberally dressed with olive oil.  Delicious with the bread and could be shared between two.
Mozarella with courgette and sorrel
Buttery seabass carpaccio came with flecks of mild red chilli and more of that olive oil.  At £4.75, this was extremely good value and is a regular on the menu.
Seabass carpaccio
The two pasta dishes on the menu: papardelle with veal ragu and ricotto and taglierini with chanterelles and parmesan were a resounding success and got a big thumbs up from the Italian (who knows his pasta!).

On to the mains.  There are six choices, priced from £14.25 to £14.95, with no real need to pay for extra sides (which, by the way, is a pet peeve of mine, as it often pushes prices up to ridiculous levels)

I went for the grilled sea bream with cannellini, potato and romanesco.  This was a flavoursome, substantial, rustic dish.  The fish was perfectly cooked, with a lovely crispy skin.

Sea bream
Zucca's signature dish is the veal chop, served with spinach and lemon.  This is an almost obscenely large portion - guaranteed to make the day of any carnivore.  Perfectly chargrilled on the outside, pink in the middle.  And apparently 'bouncy' in texture (no, I'm not sure what that means either.  You'd have to ask my dining companion himself).  Funnily enough, I didn't hear much about the accompanying spinach...
The star of the show: veal chop
Although we were already full, the food had been so good that we couldn't resist trying the puddings.  The panna cotta with poached plum was the lightest option and a perfect example of its kind.

The pistachio tart, although lighter than it appeared, was still something of a heavyweight choice.  Lovely flavour with a delicious short, buttery crust.  Definitely best shared.

Pistachio tart
The food was fantastic from start to finish and I just had two little niggles.  Firstly, the open kitchen isn't ventilated well enough; although we sat right by the window, when we left all our clothes had taken on the smell of cooking meat fat.  Secondly, whilst the food is very well priced, the wine is less of a bargain.  There's just one bottle at £18 with the rest priced at £23 plus.  It would be nice to see a small selection of house wines for under £20 a bottle.

All in all, Zucca is a fantastic restaurant and I'm highly jealous of anyone who can call this their local.  And it was a resounding success with the Italian, which is high praise indeed.

**Sorry the photos are a bit rubbish.  Camera phone, dim lighting blah.

Zucca on Urbanspoon


  1. I'm going tomorrow, so thanks for the mouth watering post. Can't wait! x

  2. Glad you enjoyed it. I'm itching to go back! x


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