Italian restaurants in London can tend to fall into two categories: friendly, local, red and white checked tablecloths, cheap red wine and decent spag bol or slick, of-the-moment cicchetti/tapas-style food eaten below cool, modern lighting at a shared, distressed wooden bench. Opened back in April 2010 by chef patron Sam Harris (formerly of River Café), Zucca offers an alternative in the form of simple, fresh, modern Italian food in a clean and contemporary setting. The interior is uncomplicated - all white furniture, stripped wooden floors and pendant lighting - allowing for the open kitchen that runs the full length of the kitchen to be showcased.
The straightforward, daily-changing menu includes no more than eight starters/antipasti, two pasta dishes and six mains (fish and meat) to choose from. On ELLEuk's visit, we started with vitello tonnato and a light but tantalising carpaccio of sea bass. The staff were attentive and friendly, a refreshing change from the emerging London trend for aloof and offhand service.
For our second course, we had Orecchiette with octopus, tomato and chilli and Pappardelle with girolles and parmesan. Again, the pasta was delicate and light and made fragrant by the fresh herbs, flouting the convention for heavy, stodgy Italian food. For secondi, there was roast cod with cavolo nero and pancetta and a succulent veal chop with spinach and lemon. We didnt have room for dessert but the chocolate torte at the table of the couple sitting next to us was very covetable...
Zucca has the feel and atmosphere of a restaurant that youd go to for a special occasion but the simple food and reasonable(ish) price tag make it a realistic new regular in your dining repertoire.
The ELLEuk Score
Good for: Special occasion; First date; romantic; group dinner; work lunch/dinner
Style of food: Modern Italian
Address: 184 Bermondsey Street, London, SE1 3TQ
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Prices and Other Details at Zucca
Opening times: Tues-Sat 12.30-3 and 6.30-10, Sun 12.30-3, Monday closed
Average price per person for two-course meal without wine: £46
Price of bottle house wine: Malvasia Ortonese, £20
Price of glass house wine: Grechetto Sportoletti, £4.95
Price glass house champagne: Franciacorta Prestige Cuvee Ca del Bosco, £35
Price bottle house champagne: Franciacorta Prestige Cuvee Ca del Bosco, £8.50
Private dining room? 10 cover private dining room
Best table? Next to the open kitchen and overlooking the bar area
Nearest tube: Bermondsey