Friday, 22 April 2011
The only problem with Zucca is that it's not on my street. This is pure, unfussy Italian food at its best. And it comes in relaxed but brightly buzzy surrounds with pleasant service - and at prices so good, you could make it a once a weeker.
The room itself is one of those happy places that immediately makes you smile - clean lines, white tables, big sunny windows, open kitchen, bright warm splashes of pumpkin orange. It's River Cafe, without the river. And I said that on the night before I knew about chef Sam Harris' former connection with River Cafe. We dined in the evening, but I walked past again the next day and the whole room was bathing gloriously in sunshine - a lovely spot for lunch.
The food just broadens the whopping big cheeser that's already on your dial. Meatballs with sweet, hearty tomato sauce are a favorite (I think we ordered a second serve), and TPG and I also loved the fresh carpaccio of seabass which is liberally dressed in a grassy olive oil. Even the bruschetta is a memorable mouthful of caramel-like roasted onion and taleggio.
Since we all want everything on the menu, we also share among our starters a toothsome bowl of thin taglierini with spring herbs and ricotta.
For mains, D enjoys the casarecce pasta with pork and fennel ragu, and TPG and R share the grilled lamb chops for 2 (wonderously pink and juicy morsels) with potato and anchovy.
It must be Easter, as I seem to have a dose of bunny at this time every year - in this case, the slow cooked, ultra moist rabbit with trevisano and to die for creamy white polenta. It's love.
The only complaint is that there's a hell of a lot of olive oil on nearly every plate - but it's greeny, good, olivey olive oil at it's best.
Desserts are marvellous - TPG hops in to a seductively wobbly vanilla pannacotta (beautifully silky and creamy), but even he has to agree that my warm rhurbarb and almond cake is the real dark horse - perfect if you like a more restrained dessert.
Prices are incredibly reasonable for the quality and gorgeous surrounds - antipasti - £3.95 - £4.50, pasta (only 2 to choose from) at £7 or £9 and mains all hover around the £14.50 mark. Including 2 bottles of a lovely Barbera and service, I think we got away for less than £40 per head.
Zucca and Trullo (reviewed earlier) are exactly what I want from my Italian restaurants. These are two restaurants in London that I'm almost bursting to get back to.
Zucca, 184 Bermondsey Street, Bermondsey (near London Bridge), SE1 3TQ, Tel: 020 7378 6809