Thursday, October 6, 2011
Zucca: an affordable smart London Italian
Zucca’s been around for a good few months now so it’s hardly a find but because it’s off the beaten track for many London visitors - down the far end of Bermondsey Street, about a 10 minute walk from London Bridge - it might have escaped your notice.
It’s worth the detour, as Michelin says. It’s a cool contemporary restaurant serving immaculately cooked modern Italian food at more than fair prices. It's also just been listed in the top 3 Italian restaurants in Europe by the World's 50 Best - a somewhat hyperbolic accolade but one which underlines that it is something special.
We kicked off while we were waiting for the rest of our party with what must be a signature dish of ‘Zucca’ fritti (above) - perfectly cooked squash fritters intermingled with sage leaves which added a nice bitter note to what can be an oversweet and slightly bland veg.
We then grazed through a few more antipasti - carpaccio of sea bass (above - stellar), bruschetta of smoked eel, mozzarella, yellow courgettes and sorrel (yum) and san daniele, ventricina and lardo (the least interesting of the four) - all of which were under a fiver.
I wished for a moment I’d had my son’s pappardelle with hare ragu (above) which looked - and tasted - fabulous (pasta is one of the highspots at Zucca) but was more than happy with my cacciucco, a Tuscan-style fish stew with couscous. And my husband, who always orders rabbit if it’s on the menu rated his slow cooked sweet and sour rabbit as good as his own - high praise indeed ;-).
We shared a delicious crumbly walnut cake (below), an Italian spin on bakewell tart and some icecreams which were all top drawer and not too sweet.
With a bottle of Falanghina and a couple of glasses of red the bill came to £136 for 4 of us and a baby (my grandson!) who tucked heartily into his own plate of pasta. That included service for which, they make a point of stressing, they don't charge. You could easily spend that much in Jamie’s Italian and eat half as well.
This week they have a pig week which I’m sorry to be missing. Follow their tweets @SamZucca to find out what else they have on.
* Oh, and a footnote. Bermondsey Street, which is an up and coming London food destination (it's not far from Maltby street market) also houses the excellent José tapas bar so you could call in there for a sherry first. José's own restaurant, Pizarro, opens down the road next month.