It was 2 days before D’s birthday and I still didn’t have a restaurant booked to take him to for his birthday supper. It wasn’t that there wasn’t any choice – quite the opposite in fact – the problem is when you live in a city full of some of the world’s best, and most exciting restaurants, it becomes very difficult to pick where to go, especially when the ‘next big thing’ appears to open every fortnight. There just aren’t enough meal-times to get through them all.
Fortunately for me the latest ‘next big thing’ to open in London was already causing quite a stir…
After a matter of only 2 or 3 days I’d heard mention of an amazing new Italian place called Zucca a good handful of times. More to the point, I’d been hearing very good things. Very good things indeed. I made an executive decision to head there immediately.
“Good luck getting a reservation!!!” was the reply from a foodie friend when I enquired more about it.
I looked on their website and, lo and behold!, I couldn’t get a booking for over a month. Oh dear.
The eternal optimist, I decided we’d ‘wing it’ and try our luck on the night. Despite being a Thursday night (did I mention I’m an eternal optimist?!) we took ourselves down to Bermondsey St and to the site of the old Bermondsey Kitchen, which is where Zucca now resides. Arriving at around 6:45pm I figured because we were so early we might just be in luck. Putting on my best and most dazzling smile I shuffled up to the front desk and asked the charming hostess if there were any chance on earth that I might get a table for 2. Fully prepared to be given our marching orders, I was quite stunned when she replied;
“For two? Yes, please follow me”.
D and I grinned wildly at each other and followed her through the restaurant to an empty table. The hostess pleasantly informed us however, that although they could accommodate us, we’d need to leave after 1.5hrs to make way for the next reservation. We didn’t mind at all. We were just so glad to be sitting in there about to experience what all the hype has been about.
When someone had described Zucca to me as being similar to Trullo in its simple, hearty, Italian brilliance, I had automatically expected Zucca to resemble Trullo in its appearance also. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Trullo is very intimate. It’s dimly-lit to encourage that cosy feel and make you feel like you could sink into your seat for a thousand years and no-one would mind, or notice. Zucca on the other hand is more a place to be seen. It’s light, bright and very ‘cool’. I’ve got to just say one thing about the decor in Zucca that’s really stuck in my mind – As we walked across the dining room to our table we stepped off of wooden flooring onto a carpet so soft and deep pile, I felt like I was treading through clouds. It was a really nice feeling and it’s really stuck in there in my mind. Nice touch Zucca.
So, moving on to the food. After a quick aperitif (Negroni & Prosecco Bosco di Gica Adami), and a very lovely aperitivi of frittata, we got going on the starters. I had ordered some divine little goats cheese and Italian salami ‘gnudi’, which to my delight I discovered to be small little dumplings deep fried in breadcrumbs. I’m guessing that the Italian salami used was Nduja as it had quite a kick. They were utterly delicious and just seemed so harmless in their miniature size (despite being deep fried cheese and salami). D had the Baccala which was just delicious.
We ordered a bottle of white wine (Gavi di Gavi 2010 – £28) from their impressive wine list. If you like Italian wine, you are going to love their wine selection. Just take a look at their stunning wine cellar…
For main, I chose the popular Pappardelle with Pheasant Ragu and D opted for the wallet-shrinking White Truffle Risotto (£25). Now, I’m reluctant to buck the trend and say anything negative about the food at Zucca, but both D and I had complaints with our mains. I, unfortunately, almost cracked a tooth on a bone in my ragu, and D considered his risotto to be a tad overseasoned and consequently tasted too salty. I must state however, that despite the rogue intruder, my ragu tasted absolutely delicious and I had been happily devouring it before discovering the bone.
Sadly, our 1.5hr slot didn’t leave us enough time for dessert and we had to shuffle off.
On reflection both D and I are keen to go back. I would like to spend a leisurely evening in Zucca, where I can take my time – maybe quietly slipping my shoes off under the table and fondling the carpet with my toes – and enjoy the whole experience a bit more. Despite the bone and the salt, Zucca is not a write off for me as the taste of everything else was marvellous, and if for just the gnudi alone, I’ll be heading back there soon.
(A huge thank you to Zucca’s lovely PR folk for the images. Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera with me. It does mean however that they are not images of what we ate)