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|Address:||184 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3TQ|
|Tel:||020 3463 0551|
|Price: £47.00||Wine: £26.00|
|Opening Hours:||Tues-Sun 12N-3pm (Sat-Sun -3.30pm) Tues-Sat 6-10pm|
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Zucca opened earlier in the year to rave reviews from bloggers and critics alike. Many had no idea how they could create their homely yet modern Italian cuisine at the prices they were charging, many of the same people also raved about the quality of the simple ingredients and this man, reading the bundles of food porn produced, licked his lips and vowed to get there, and soon. Well time moved on, and other places opened, and this man didn't get down there (though close) so it was with pleasure while sculling round for somewhere to go last week that this man was reminded of the little (still fairly new) cozy, modern and cheap Italian on Bermondsey Street.
Slightly uncomfortable sub-Habitat chairs aside, the space is a welcoming one. Light walls and exposed brick link the floor to ceiling windows that mirror the open kitchen across the rear. The tables are small and close together, but the high ceilings don't allow the volume to get too loud or your neighbours conversations too intrusive.
And the food? Well I've already booked my return. It's a rare place that makes you feel like that, but Zucca is the restaurant equivalent of a huge hug from an old family friend. And I want another hug. We started, encouraged by the friendly, observant and on the ball waitress, to go for a selection of shared starters. Prosciutto di Parma with a perfectly ripe fig was good, two excellent ingredients in harmonious marriage. Cardoons, celery like sticks of artichoke thistle a rare sight on a menu, came slathered in a thick and slightly boozy fondue cheese which proved perfect for being mopped up by the real star of the starters, the Zucca Fritti. Sticks of pumpkin, squash and carrot with the odd leaf of zingy basil came cooked in a tempura light batter and piled high. The healthiest fried food I've ever had and for a jaw dropping £3 a plate. This would be my lunch, daily, if I lived in the neighbourhood.
You have the option of a pasta course, either before or instead of the main, a bold and light chicory, lemon and gorgonzola taglierini that both companions opted for, and an intriguing bucatini, a spaghetti-like shape with a hollow centre, served with a seasonal pheasant sauce. The gamey notes continued into the carne, where I went for a whole partridge, served with slightly pointless and bland potatoes (the nearest to a duff note I had). Tender as I've had, with a rich stickiness on the breast and a salty umami-filled gravy made from the juices. We shared a homemade tiramisu, rich and creamy, and a panna cotta with poached pear, illiteratively pleasing but as a dessert just too bland for my palate. For £25 a head, it felt like we were committing theft.