Bermondsey Street isn’t short of good places to eat but Zucca is one of the originals. It’s a modern Italian restaurant based at the Bermondsey Square end of the street and it’s always packed whenever I walk past.
The dining room was a very attractive space; flooded with natural light, white walls, thick grey carpet, comfortable chairs and modern art hanging on the walls designed by a local artist. It was the perfect place for a relaxed Saturday lunch. There’s an open plan kitchen too which is so un-obtrusive you’d easily forget it’s there.
The often changing menu was presented on a piece of A4 card with the date printed – I love it when a restaurant puts the date on a menu. Once translated by our waitress, it was the sort of menu that was difficult to choose from as everything sounded so appealing.
Some freshly baked bread got things off to a wonderful start, but it was the olive oil that stole the show – such delicious flavour. You can even buy bottles to take home.
To start I opted for the cresia di polenta, clauscolo and lardo (£6.95) which was grilled polenta flatbreads, spreadable salami and some ham fat with crushed walnuts. The flavour combinations were simply sublime and every single mouthful was pure bliss. The ham fat was salty, the salami had a strong meaty flavour and the polenta bread was some of the finest bread I’ve tasted.
My gentleman companion opted for the lumache, octopus and chickpea (£10). Lumache is like giant macaroni and it had been made that day – the quality was fantastic. The octopus was delicate and not overcooked and it was dressed in a light, sweet tomato sauce. Lovely.
For main I went for the grilled leg of lamb, roasted vegetables, rosemary and anchovy (£17). The lamb was cooked to perfection but for 17 quid I would have liked a little bit more of it. The sweet red peppers and tangy beetroot made for a great accompaniment and a sort of mint-pesto was delicious too. The side of broccoli with chilli (£4.25) was really good and cooked just right – there’s nothing worse than soggy veg!
My gentleman companion’s guinea fowl cacciatora, farro and Swiss chard (£16.50) had a great overall flavour but the guinea fowl was sadly overcooked and therefore dry. Farro is a grain similar to pearl barley but is much chewier and almost nutty – here it worked perfectly with the gamey guinea fowl.
We decided to share a pudding and went for the chocolate semi freddo, pecan ice cream and hot salted caramel sauce (£8). This was a pudding with raw sex appeal – if it were a person we’d be married by now. A chocolate semi freddo complete with frozen chocolate chunks, crunchy pecans and a velvety smooth pecan ice cream would have been good enough but to then pour over a hot caramel sauce – I mean – wow! I fell in love with this pudding.
Our time at Zucca was really lovely; it’s a relaxed restaurant serving really delicious food. The service is really sweet and friendly too which makes things all the more enjoyable. Now I know why it’s always so busy – and so it should be.