Cooking classic Italian cuisine that’s stepped up for the High Street is a competitive business of late. There is now a wide range of eateries that offer some pretty delicious and well-priced pizza, pasta and main dishes that can easily tempt you off the streets on a long shopping trip, or summon you and your friends with smells and tastes for a cheeky evening out.
Zizzi stands out among them as something fairly iconic, however, as an ever popular restaurant dining option that continuously brings some fresh and new flavours to dishes to change the game.
We decided to take a trip to try out the new Summer Zizzi menu – and also give the Zizzi vegan menu a try – to see if the new dishes are a little bit of something special, and if Zizzi really is the vegan and gluten-free paradise that has seemingly set it apart.
Note that prices can vary, so don’t take our word as gospel!
Zizzi Classic Menu – Starters
Mmmm. These starters set us off on the right foot, with some of the more memorable flavours enjoyed throughout the entire meal.
We picked out the Pulled Beef Arancini, and the Butterfly King Prawns – both part of the new seasonal selection – alongside the Mushroom Brindisi and some Nocellara Giganti Olives to share (and suffice the early cravings of our vegan companion).
Generously, many of the starters are vegetarian options (we were fairly meat-minded with our selection), and we picked the olives out of the vegan selection to avoid doubling (well, tripling) up on bread – not that there were many complaints to be heard, however, as they were generously sized and really juicy.
Pulled Beef Arancini – ~£5.45
Risotto is a wonderful, fragrant, sticky, delicious mess of rice, cooking in delicious things. You can’t go wrong.
But when you deep fry a ball of that goodness with pulled beef and mozzarella, and coat in breadcrumbs? That, my friend, is a starter I am on board with.
The flavours were delicious and the textures truly en pointe, with the pulled beef making for a surprisingly natural accompaniment. The capia pepper dip helped balance out the textures and added another nice layer of flavour, to0.
Butterfly King Prawns – ~£5.95
The picture and description don’t do this dish justice, because it’s described as relatively sauce-free. The sauce in this dish was stunning, and was mopped up with all of the bread from all the other dishes we enjoyed – always a good sign that you’re onto a winner.
Between the capia pepper, garlic butter and white wine – and perhaps a touch of bacon and tomato, as haphazardly guessed by some of us dining that day – was a sauce that was rich and gently smoky, and made for the perfect accompaniment to the fluffy but well textured ‘little soul’ bread.
Mushroom Brindisi – ~£5.95
More wonderful mozzarella and deliciously well-textured bread. Admittedly, you had to tuck into this one fairly quickly so that the juicy mushrooms and garlic oil didn’t turn the bread too soft, but it was still well-balanced and was a nice, healthy-sized starter that would certainly take a dent out of a hungry diner’s dinner plans.
This was another new item on the Zizzi menu too, and will hopefully hang around for a while.
Zizzi Vegan Menu – Mains
After we’d finished our starter and were discussing mains, we talked about the terrible trap you seem to fall into at Italian restaurants of only ordering pasta or pizza dishes – and how this was a really nice excuse to pick some items that were a little further off the beaten path.
… naturally, we still got a couple of pizzas, but we also tried some of the new seasonal dishes and a variety of flavours to ensure we were getting a little bit of something new.
For our vegan eater, this was the Vegan Rustica Pizza – with mozzarisella, a cheese substitute made from organic rice milk – alongside aubergine, artichoke, peppers, olives, and balsamic tomatoes (basically the ‘Primavera’ without goats cheese and pesto).
Vegan Rustica Pizza – ~£12
There were honest exclamations of it “being so nice to eat something that actually feels and tastes like cheese” – which is really as honest and heartfelt a review as any vegan can give about a pizza.
One thing to say was that this pizza – and the meat-friendly one discussed below – were giant. You could almost have had the same amount of topping on a slightly smaller pizza and wouldn’t have felt hard done by, and would have had less ‘leftover’ bread, tomato and cheese to munch through.
That said, there were no complaints here as it was completely finished off – and the vegan menu did us a giant favour and truly did itself proud.
Zizzi Classic Menu – Mains
Summer Beef Short Rib – ~£15.25
A healthy helping of beautifully cooked meat and a chianti and rosemary sauce is never going to be a bad thing, and this definitely drew some eyes as it came to the table. As is expected, it fell away from the bone wonderfully and was beautifully flavoured.
The smoky sweet potato was textured just right, and the naked slaw made for quite a nice accompaniment, especially as there was already enough sauce on the plate to bring everything together.
Although this seems like a heavier dish for a summer menu, it actually didn’t sit too heavily and the portions were just right, which was a pleasant surprise.
Seabass Cartoccio – ~£15.25
This is the perfect example of a dish you wouldn’t typically order from an Italian chain restaurant; but was also the perfect example of why you should try to lean away from your standard choices next time you decide to visit.
As is the case with fish cooked in parchment paper, everything seems very exciting and rather nerve-wracking when the food arrives, and the waft of steam and enjoyable unwrapping add a tiny touch of drama to proceedings. Of course, the benefits outside of this are obvious, particularly when you tuck into a perfectly moist fillet of fish.
The Tuscan potatoes were cooked as you’d hope and dream they would be – fluffy on the inside, and delicately crisped and well seasoned on the outside – and the red onion, peppers and courgette were a nice choice for the accompaniment to the fish.
Pollo Rosso Rustica Pizza – ~£12.75
As mentioned above, the pizzas were giant – I’m a fan of a pizza literally crammed with toppings, so I could have dropped a little of the bread away and not been too disappointed.
However, the fresh and almost fruity peppers were a nice change, and combined with the really light tomato sauce you were left with a surprisingly refreshing pizza. It’s strange to describe a pizza as refreshing, but it’s the best way to talk about the freshness and sweetness that came through.
The chicken was also tasty, and for once, well sized and well spaced. Nobody wants giant hunks of meat in their pizza – that’s just asking for you to burn the roof of your mouth clean off.
Zizzi Summer Menu – Desserts
Everything felt light, fresh and fragrant at our table! Despite the ever-tempting draw of some of the chocolate melting goodness and baked cheesecakes – if we had more space and time, there’d have been a tiny chance we’d have doubled-back on desserts – we went for a variety of the new, classic, and vegan gelato and sundaes.
Gelato is something of an Italian speciality after all, and after a heavy meal cutting out that extra does of cream is actually welcome.
Coppa Cocco Sundae – ~£5.65
The balance of textures in this was incredible. The pink raspberry snap was your wafer-equivalent occasional treat, toasted coconut shards gave every mouthful an added crunch and the variety of flavour in the coconut gelato and mango sorbet made for a combination that was both tangy and creamy – but never too much.
The peach was a little tricky to deal with in a cocktail-esque sundae glass – I’m clearly not a master with a spoon – but this was still a really good, refreshing dessert that came together to make something pretty beautiful.
Vegan Coconut Gelato
That’s as good a time as any to mention that the coconut gelato was vegan-friendly, and was happy demolished by our somehow still fairly hungry team. There were a variety of other flavours that catered to those with other dietary requirements, which was a nice touch.
Lemon Meringue Sundae – ~£5.65
Another marvel of taste and texture, combining lemon and vanilla with crumbled meringue to bring the classic flavours you’d expect – with lemon curd and extra mascarpone cream for a bit of bite and something to take the bite away again. Well balanced and, surprisingly, not too much after a big meal, which is a consistent and appreciated theme across all of the desserts.
And if we’ve made you as hungry as we apparently all were, you can make the most of some of the best Zizzi offers around with Vouchercloud, and make a saving next time you take a trip.