“ Address: 31-32 New Road, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 1UG „
On a recent weekend break to Brighton, we hadn't booked a restaurant for the Saturday night, which in hindsight would have been a good idea. We tried several around The Lanes area but they were all fully booked. We spotted Zaffarelli on New Road, just off North Street, one of the main shopping streets in central Brighton. We thought it looked busy and we would be unlikely to get table, but one of the staff members came out and said that they had one more table for two. Our saviour, an Italian gentleman, seated us and fussed about sticking folded card under the table so it didn't wobble, and getting us a menu. The restaurant is typical of many Italian restaurants I have been in - a good size, with lots of tables and lots of pictures on the wall. The restaurant layout meant that we were close to our neighbours but not uncomfortably so. To drink we selected an Italian Pinot Grigio from the Veneto region in the north east. We found this very light and drinkable and it didn't conflict with our food. It cost £17 per bottle, generally this was average. Some wines were also available by the glass or as a carafe. Of course, they also offered a range of soft drinks, spirits and beers (bottled, I didn't see any draught beers). We decided what we wanted fairly quickly and our friendly waiter was delighted with my boyfriend's choices, one of which had come from the Specials menu. He asked me if I wanted anything from there and did I like fish? I said "no", so he said "Oh so meat", again I said "no" and he was a bit baffled at that. I pointed out that I was vegetarian and he painstakingly and enthusiastically went through the menu despite my attempts to stop him as I had already decided. "Aubergine Parmigiana! You like eggplant? Yes?" Well yes I do like eggplant/aubergine, but that isn't what I want tonight. Of course my selection was towards the back of the menu, so all his suggestions had to be politely re-buffed. I appreciate the effort, but I did find it slightly annoying and slightly patronising as we had said we were ready to order, but I hadn't been given the opportunity to order my food before he took over. Saying that there isn't a wide selection of vegetarian options as I would have expected, especially as we were in a city that seemed to be highly vegetarian friendly compared to many others. Veggie options were the usual pasta, risotto and pizza options. To start my partner ordered the calves liver pate which he pronounced superb. It was attractively served with salad and bread. I got no further down the starter menu than the deep fried mozzarella. I have to confess to a love of deep fried cheese and it is my first choice on any menu, if available. For £6.40 I got two bread crumbed mozzarella balls serves with a salad garnish and a generous home made tomato sauce. It was quite filling and I did enjoy it. For his main course, my boyfriend chose the sea-bass from the specials menu, which our waiter was so enthusiastic about. It was wrapped around spinach and sun dried tomatoes and served with potatoes, carrots and broccoli. My boyfriend thought it was excellent and very well presented and cooked; he even enjoyed the carrots which he normally doesn't like. I order the vegetarian pizza. Again this was a good sized portion served on a large plate and the wonky shape a testimony to the fact it was home-made. It also glistened from the amount of oil that was put on it. Taste wise it was acceptable, but just far too greasy for me and I couldn't finish it (although the deep fried cheese had probably taken the edge off my appetite). Price wise my pizza was a fraction under £9 (cheaper ones were available) and my boyfriend's seabass was £18.95 from memory. We didn't have a dessert, electing to have another bottle of the lovely wine and chat. The staff were happy for us to do so. Toilets are downstairs (I didn't see any disabled ones, but we were in a corner so I couldn't see much of the restaurant to be fair) and clean and well stocked, although one of the light fittings were out, so you needed to keep the door ajar as it was pitch black in the cubicle. This was reported to the staff and they did come and look at it, but it wasn't fixed that night to my knowledge. The total bill came to £80 for the two of us including two courses and two bottles of wine, and I think this also covered service, so I didn't think this was too bad as sea bass can be an expensive fish. As to recommend it, I struggle slightly. I didn't really enjoy my pizza and overall and found the meal greasy (and this is coming from someone who eats deep fried cheese). However, my boyfriend loved both his courses, so I can accept that maybe that I just ordered the wrong thing on the night. Zafferelli 31-32 New Road Brighton BN1 1UG 01273 206662 Open 7 days a week. I recommend booking if intending to visit at peak times.