Zucca – Cucina povera & BYOB : Bellissimo

Zucca has a very reasonable £10 corkage fee when you bring your own bottle.  Corkage fees can be excessive. Here is a useful list, to give you a rough idea of the typical charges:-

It’s not as good a deal as the one advertized by the Kitchen W8 (free corkage on a Sunday evening), but for a Saturday night a £10 corkage fee is not too bad.  Especially in a restaurant with such a great reputation for food.

So armed with a rather nice bottle of Amerone (Masi Costasera Classico Amerone 2003), we headed off to Zucca (Bermonsey’s answer to The River Cafe), to choose some cucina povera to go with it.

It is almost a year now since my last visit, shortly after the Restaurant opened, and to say Zucca has been successful in that intervening period would be something of an understatement. It’s had rave reviews, is buzzing most nights and is firmly recognised as a “Foodies” destination restaurant.

The highlights for me had to be the pasta dishes.  The beautiful fennel and lemon flavoured tagliatelle was so refreshing and the veal and parmesan ravioli was delicious  – why did I just order a starter size portion!  The pasta was just in a different class from the very ordinary and much more expensive pasta dish I had at Apsleys. The Brunet and Speck (goats cheese wrapped in ham) was also very good.

The only downside to bringing your own wine without knowing the menu in advance,  is that you are a bit restricted in your food choices.  We avoided the more interesting fish dishes which would not have worked with the Amerone and ordered the slow cooked pork in milk and the veal chop instead.  One thing that had not changed since my last visit was the limited selection of side orders.  My veal chop, lovely though it was,  would have really suited me better if accompanied by some potatoes rather that the spinach I barely touched.

We finished with the cheese course and a very nice piece of light and moist orange cake.

The service is not particularly polished. The staff were all very pleasant, but  not quite attentive enough to comfortably handle the two hour turn around on the table. That and our waitress must have missed watching Michel Roux’s Service 😉 pouring as she did a full measure of wine, rather that just enough to check that the wine was OK, something that is especially important in BYOB situations.

Zucca is not perfect, but they certainly know how to cook.

After dinner we headed down to Most Cafe bar under Tower bridge, it was busy and getting served at the overcrowded bar looked impossible (why do under staffed bars insist on doing cocktails?), so instead we made our way to the more laid back Draft House Pub. Instant friendly service and a free table. It has a good reputation for its food as well, so definitely worth a return visit to try that, see Cheese and Biscuits review for details.

Marks out of 10 for Zucca

Food 6.3

Service 4.9

Ambience 6.0

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LOCATION INFORMATION

Browse Google Map© :- NoExpert Food Blog – London, UK

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The Mayflower Inn versus La Lanterna

So why a historic gastropub versus a traditional Italian Trattoria.  The reason is Open House London or Open City as it is now called, an event that allows for free access to some very interesting places. We had a tour of Sands Film Studios in Rotherhithe, an amazing place that among other things provided costumes for films ranging from Little Dorrit to Pride and Prejudice.  The studios are directly opposite The Mayflower Inn, so that popular scenic pub seemed an ideal location for dinner.

The Mayflower is a great pub with a floating deck area right on the river. Great for drinks that is, it used to do good food too – maybe it still does!  However when we saw the price on the chalk board for Fish and Chips, we just could not justify it – £21.00 (see picture). So we headed up river to Shad Thames, and went to La Lanterna, which is a “real” Italian Trattoria, with genuinely friendly and hospitable Italian staff. In style this place is almost the antithesis of the modern Italian restaurants typified by Zucca and the River Cafe.

We chose a bottle of my favorite Italian white wine (Gavi de Gavi), and I ordered Antipasto misto all’italiana (mixed appetisers) at £7.20 ( this dish was for one, but could have fed four). I followed this with fish from their specials board – Halibut with Scallops and Langoustine (not cheap at £21 either, but a lot more than just fish and chips).  This dish was nicely cooked and served with a tasty citrus sauce and a side order of vegetables, it  was also a huge portion.  Way too big for me, so  the waiter kindly offered to box the piece of halibut I left for take away.

There was absolutely no room for dessert so I just had coffee.  This was followed by a complementary liqueur (we were offered a choice of Amaretto, Sambuca, Baileys or Limoncello) –  a very nice way to end the evening.

La Lanterna also has an attractive inner courtyard for eating al fresco (in the summer).

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