Going back through my blog, I can’t believe I’ve never once written a full post about Zucco – it’s perhaps my favourite, if not second favourite, Leeds restaurant. It’s just a few minutes walk away from my house, the food is delicious and the fizz is cheap which means I can over indulge and roll home a few minutes later – what else could you want in a restaurant? Before an afternoon of getting the house estate agent ready, P and I thought it fit to pay Zucco a lunch visit as it was where we celebrated buying said house – full circle and all that.
Zucco is a family run restaurant serving authentic Italian small plates which change on a regular basis (though some favourites stick around). The restaurant itself is rather gorgeous; lots of dark wood and metro tiling (is that the official name or have I been hanging out in Topps for one too many afternoons?). It’s very stylish but also welcoming and homely.
Like I said the menu is a collection of small plates, they’re split into sections and tend to be served in ‘courses’; for example nibbles followed by fish, followed by meat etc – they recommend about 3 dishes per person though I’ve definitely pushed it to more before. We ordered a selection of our tried & tested favourites but first a drink. An Aperol Spritz (£5.80) for me and a large Birra Moretti Alla Siciliana (£6) for him. Now here comes my only niggle with Zucco; the white wines/fizz are never as cold as I like. Now I know this makes me a philistine but on a warm day I like mine icy cold – soon rectified by a few mins with a big old hunk of ice in though.
To start with we have one of my favourites; the Octopus, Pickles & Carta di Musica (£5.50). Crispy flat breads piled up with pickled veg, octopus and drizzled with the most delicious quality olive oil.
Then onto a couple of dishes we’d not tried before; Goats Cheese & Sweet Pepper Crostini (£4) and Coppietta (£3.70). The crostini is fantastic; rich silky smooth goats cheese balanced with pickled pepper – P trades me the third in exchange for more of the Octopus and I still worry it could have been the wrong decision… The Coppietta is a slightly spiced pork jerky – I could have easily knocked back a few more shot glasses (and I haven’t said that since I was 21).
Then onto more drinks – drunk hands make light work of house selling or something like that. One of the great things about the staff at Zucco is they have just as much time for you whether it’s super busy or quieter, or if you’re in a big group or just a couple. Especially useful when it comes to wine recommendations; every member of staff is happy to talk you through a few choices and have a little taster before you decide. Neither P or I could agree on bottle to share so got a large glass each. P had the Santa Cristina Antinori Campogrande Orvieto Classico (£7) – very dry & crisp. Mine was slightly lighter, the Vermentino di Sardinia, (£7.40), perfect for a muggy day as it’s very refreshing.
Next we had our ‘main’ courses; Tagliatelle al Burro with Mushrooms & White Truffle Oil (£7.50) and Deep Fried Courgette with Mint (£3.50). Now you might be wondering why a) we’d order 2 of the same dish with so many on offer b) why that dish would be the seemingly innocent pasta & mushrooms. It’s simple but it knocks it out the park – al dente homemade pasta liberally doused with truffle oil, parmesan, butter & mushrooms. Absolutely beautiful, this dish would definitely be a feature in my last meal/final supper. The courgettes are also a favourite; nice and light without being the slighest bit greasy – the mint lifts the dish, adding a hint of freshness.
And the puddings? Also fantastic. There are little titbits if you can’t quite manage a larger one, I usually go for those after filling up on carbs. This time we had the Cannoli (£4) and the Northern Bloc Chocolate & Sea Salt Gelato (£4.50). The cannoli is crisp pastry filled with sweetened ricotta; just the right size to satisfy a pudding craving. If you’ve not tried Northern Bloc ice cream by now – do! Really creamy ice cream in unusual but delicious flavours (hello White Chocolate & Popcorn). If neither of those puds tickle your fancy I can also highly recommend the Sgroppino al Limone (prosecco poured over lemon sorbet) or the Affogato (coffee poured over ice cream). We may have also had an Amaretto Sour (£6) each, you guessed it, no house stuff got done that afternoon…
After many visits to Zucco I’ve found the dishes I love and each time they never disappoint which I think makes the perfect local restaurant. That and a combination of lovely staff and good booze. Can you see why I love Zucco so much now? In fact, it’s making me rethink that house move a bit…