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Zucca Restaurant Reviewed

Drew Smith appreciates the considered London work and wines of Mr Harris

Published on April 25th 2012.


Zucca Restaurant Reviewed

ZUCCA means pumpkin and they come like the ones in the picture above - what the Japanese would term tempura.

We have been a bit shy reviewing here because, a) it is opposite the office and, b) it is another Bermondsey restaurant but what the heck. It is not our fault if it is all kicking off south of the river gastronomically speaking.

And vinologically speaking because it just picked up Decanter magazine’s Restaurant of the Year. Sam Harris is a total grape-nut. The Formica tables you might have thought would have excluded him from such gongs but further down the road is the Wine and Spirit Education Trust which may not be totally unconnected.

Mains are to the point – the massive veal chop, the liver with lentils. They will bake a cake for you for £35 which is a nice touch and when you see what they can do, you might well want to take one back for the office, the partner, your mum...

From a reviewer’s point of view it is a perfect restaurant too. It even has a cheaper cafe up the road in the Sarsons Brewery Works on Tower Bridge called the Maltings Cafe which also has the Formica. And the pasta. And is certainly a candidate for any Cafe of the Year.

Zuccapasta[1]Zuccapasta

However today we are concerned with the mother ship, often in shorthand dissed as the River Cafe without the river – well it is about 400 metres away – and a third of the price. Or if we are talking the Maltings, a fifth of the price. That is probably more about west London, where Bermondsey magically conjures up customers seemingly from nowhere and the turnover keeps the prices in check mostly, for the moment, cross fingers.

The photographs tell the story pretty well. There is a limit or a glass ceiling to Italian cuisine beyond which it becomes a bit daft to go and those who try and flash it up invariably come unstuck. This is a point Zucca and Harris understand which also means the place is relaxed and easy going without being Gordon Ramsay style frenetic. We are not dealing with art, but the artful.

Zuccafish[1]Zuccafish

Harris actually worked at the River Cafe but is rather more right-on than its other illustrious son Jamie Oliver. Harris is a man for the recession who knows where his enthusiasms lie and sticks with them and this coincidentally suits the wines very well. It is in fact a very rare thing being in a good place to drink some serious wines.

You start with the frittata, and the breads. The pastas come in interesting shapes and sauces, here with artichoke hearts, there with catalogna - a dandelion-like lettuce - and gorgonzola. Fish too tends to dodge the clichés in terms of going for hake or mackerel.

Mains are to the point – the massive veal chop, the liver with lentils. They will bake a cake for you for £35 which is a nice touch and when you see what they can do, you might well want to take one back for the office, the partner, your mum...

Zuccachop[1]Zuccachop

The wine list is 12 pages long and exclusively Italian and there are seventeen by the glass. The only thing you might want to ask for might be some tablecloths at lunchtime now that it can afford the laundry bill. The web site is cute too 

ALL SCORED CONFIDENTIAL REVIEWS ARE IMPARTIAL AND PAID FOR BY THE MAGAZINE. 

Zucca, 185 Bermondsey High street SE1 3TQ 0207 378 6809. www.zuccalondon.com

Rating: 15/20
Cooking: 8/10
Service: 4/5
Ambience: 3/5

PLEASE NOTE: Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20, we get carried away.

 

 

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