My husband and I went on a rare lunch date yesterday, as he had the day off work and our son was in school. I really fancied tapas, but our favourite Spanish restaurant has closed down, and the nearest one was a little too out of the way. Instead, we decided on a local Italian place called Zizzi. We had a lovely meal there, and we ordered lots of different dishes to satisfy my need for tapas!
It has been a miserable, rainy week in our part of the UK for what seems like forever, and the day we went to Zizzi was no exception. We got to the restaurant for noon and were the first customers of the day.
Greeted by a friendly waiter, we were told to pick any table that we liked and I pointed to one by the window – with just my iPhone for photos I wanted as much light as possible!
We checked to see if we were able to use a voucher that my husband had got on his phone through O2 Priority Moments (free dessert or dough sticks) and were presented with menus.
With drinks ordered, it was time for us to have a looksee at what Zizzi had to offer. I was still bummed at not being able to have tapas, and noticing lots of nice things on the Antipasti section suggested that we order a few of these starter dishes to share.
When the waiter brought over our drinks I asked him what the portions were like, and was it okay to order several dishes from the Antipasti menu, as we had originally planned to go for tapas. He pointed us toward the Cichetti menu which he said were similar in size to tapas. By now I had already eyeballed some of the dishes on the Antipasti section, so we just ordered those as intended. Perhaps next time we’ll try the Cichetti menu.
First off, we ordered the ‘Antipasto Zizzi’ which came beautifully presented on a rustic wooden board (I love food served like this!) and contained buffalo mozzerella and grand padano cheese, black and green olives, sunblushed tomatoes, cured speck, salami Romana, coppa and prosciutto along with a couple of dough sticks. What you see here is the ‘for one’ portion, but hubs and I shared that along with everything else!
Not only did it look appetising, it also tasted good too. The mozzerella was soft and creamy, and there was a nice mix of different types of olives. I’ve since read up that cured speck is a juniper flavoured ham (thanks Wiki!), but can’t say I remember tasting that flavour. Salami Romana, I would assume is salami from Rome, coppa – another cured meat and the prosciutto all tasted good, and we both really enjoyed this platter of Italian deli delights.
Last year hubs and I ate at Jamie Oliver’s pop up restaurant at the ‘Taste of Christmas’ show. I still have the photos from that meal to blog about, but never got around to it…any how…part of that meal was arancini, which are little balls of risotto rice, stuffed with goodies like cheese or mushrooms, then fried, then nommed. I spied arancini on the menu and said “we must order these!”
Three per portion – and well sized – maybe 2 inches across, and served with a small dish of tomato and chilli sauce and a handful of rocket leaves. Once broken into, the arancini revealed gooey, melted cheese and peas. Very nice indeed and the sauce did pack some heat!
Up next are the ‘Gamberoni Arrosto’ or roasted prawns to the non-Italian. I don’t know what magic they worked to these bad boys, but they were scrumptious! The sauce was a buttery, lemony concoction with parsley and plenty of chilli. We didn’t order bread with our food, and the left over sauce made me wish we had, just to dunk into!
Our final dish was a portion of ‘Calamari’. The only way I like squid (actually, probably the only way I’ve eaten squid!).
It came served wrapped in ‘newspaper’ in a small metal bucket – so cute! On the side was a small bowl of basil and garlic aioli dip and a lemon wedge.
You can order the squid in both a small and large portion. This was the small portion which I thought was very plentiful – easily enough for two to share! Which of course we did! Light, crispy batter, not overcooked and rubbery like some calamari can be, and a tasty dip to dunk into. A winner!
Having shared our starters, and not feeling too stuffed, we decided to have a main course as well.
With so many dishes to choose from – pasta, pizza, salads, risotto…it was a tough choice, but since I’m on a diet and diet was broken for the day, I went for the ‘Pollo al Rosmarino’ pizza which was topped with chicken, roasted peppers, goats’ cheese and rosemary.
A big, 10 inch perhaps, pizza. Thin and crispy base with tangy goats’ cheese and I would imagine mozzerella too, covering it. Lots of roasted peppers and chunks of chicken. I love rosemary and that flavour also comes through. I love how the pizzas come out looking rustic and homely.
My husband ordered a ‘Piccante Rustica’ pizza, which was HUGE! Had to be 18 inches long! The waiter ‘warned him’ that it was very spicy hot…that’s fine, hubs can handle the heat! The pizza, served on a wooden board, was topped with spicy n’Duja sausage from Calabria, with pepperoni, salami, mushrooms, mozzarella and mascarpone, as well as Roquito chilli and rocket.
I had a slice from his pizza and it was yummy – I preferred it over mine…there was a kick from the chilli which was scattered over in big chunks, but it wasn’t overbearing at all. The creamy mascarpone and the rocket leaves help to balance all the spicy-ness out.
In addition to our pizzas, I insisted on some sides, so we ordered a ‘Rocket and Grand Padano Salad’. I love peppery rocket and it had nice big shavings of the cheese on top.
We also ordered ‘Tuscan Potatoes’, which came served in a little bucket like the calamari did, and were roasted new potatoes, cut in half and sprinkled with sea salt and chopped rosemary.
And finally, a side of ‘Polenta Chunks’ served with a tomato sauce on the side. Rosemary was in the polenta crust – lots of that in the food at Zizzi’s – good thing it’s my favourite herb!
At this point, you may be thinking, where on earth did we put all this food? Well, after about two bites from my pizza, and a forkful of salad, I declared that I was stuffed and couldn’t eat any more. My husband looked at me and said “are you joking?!”. To which I replied, “no, I am not!”, and “I’m sure that they will put my pizza in a box to take home”. I watched as he found room for his pizza, whilst finishing off the rocket salad.
Of course, feeling stuffed does actually mean making room for dessert. Which was free as we had a voucher code…so felt like we *had* to order one!!
I chose ‘Torta Cioccolata’ which was a scrummy! A chocolate and hazelnut base, topped with a light chocolate mousse and served with a scoop of gelato. The base was very hard to cut through with a spoon, but somehow I managed!
Hubby opted for the ‘Torta Amaretti’. A cheesecake made with marscapone and amaretto and served with a berry compote. This was LUSH! He and I always share things when going out to eat – usually because I choose something, he chooses something and his ends up tasting nicer than mine!
We discovered that the chocolate torte went very well with the berry compote – it cuts through the richness of the chocolate.
The amaretti cheesecake was soft and creamy and with a nice hint of the amaretto in the background, rather than a smack you in the face flavour. Not sure what the crust was – I’m guessing, actually as I’m typing this, realising, it was probably crushed amaretti biscuits.
With my pizza tucked into a box by the waiter to take home and both of us stuffed to the brim, we asked for the bill. £30 per head – not bad at all for an Italian food blow out! We got our desserts for free, and we ordered four starters, so all okay! Back to the diet today though!!
A nice restaurant, with friendly staff and tasty food. We will be going back in the future – just to try some of the other dishes! If you live near a Zizzi, I highly recommend it!