“ Address: 700 Wilmslow Road / Didsbury / Manchester / Lancashire / England / M20 2DN / Tel: 0161 434 5923 „
Zizzi is a UK based chain of Italian style restaurants who are owned by another similar style chain - Ask
I remember not too long ago when you could only find Zizzi in London but now they are springing up all over the place including 3 in my town of residence - Manchester.
I live in a suburb called Didsbury in South Manchester, which has a wealth of pubs, bars and restaurants within the Village. Independents mix with chains (we have had a pizza express for some time now) and in November 2009, a Zizzi finally opened up on Wilmslow Road, occupying the site of the Old Clock Tower (ill fated pub) and a Japanese restaurant called Fugu (also ill fated).
It seemed like that building was a bit of a rotten spot, but when I heard Zizzi would be opening, I had a feeling it would go the distance.
Like Pizza Express, Zizzi always seem to have a promotional voucher doing the rounds whether its 2 for 1 on mains, or get 2 meals for a promotional price.
However unlike Pizza Express, Zizzi offer far more than a menu mostly consisting of pizza (yes I know that PE do some pasta dishes / salads but the choice is really limited especially for vegetarians, so I inevitably end up with a pizza when what I really want is a massive fat bowl of pasta!)
This weekend, my husband decided to take advantage of the gorgeous sunshine and treat me to lunch at Zizzi as we had been meaning to go since its opening but never got around to it.
** VENUE **
The venue is large, spaciously laid out with no obvious overcrowding of tables, and extremely light. The old clock tower has high ceilings and huge windows all around, which especially on a bright day left the place flooded with sunshine.
We were greeted at the door immediately by a friendly waitress and we asked to sit by the window to people watch and take advantage of the weather, which was accommodated by the waitress with no problems.
There are a mixture of booths, individual tables and long comfy seats and they seem to be able to accommodate large parties without a squeeze.
Toilets were spotless too (well, you have to check!)
** FOOD / DRINK **
There was a decent amount of wines to choose from and my husband ordered a large glass of Montepulciano red which came in at a pretty standard £4.95, and promptly pronounced it delicious!
I ordered a fresh mint tea which was served in a miniscule cup (not much bigger than an espresso cup) which is not the ideal vessel, however it was fine - a little on the pricey side at £1.95 for a few mint leaves and a thimble of water but still....
To start we ordered some 'goddess olives' (from Sicily's Belice Valley) and a tricolore salad.
The olives were such a vibrant green, very tasty and there were plenty of them - honestly there must have been about 20 - 25 olives in the dish!
The Tricolore salad is named after the 3 colours of the Italian flag, red for the santos tomatoes, green for the avocado and white for the buffalo mozzarella
It arrived presented nicely on an oblong dish and was finished with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of rock salt. There was a decent amount to share between 2 for a lunchtime but if you were hungrier you may want to order one to yourself.
The mains menu was really varied, from salads, antipasti, pizza, pasta, risotto and some more traditional mains like steak, fish, chicken or duck. There is plenty of choice for vegetarians and a bambini menu for the kids.
As it was lunchtime and I didn't want to eat too heavily, I ordered a simple Spaghetti Pomodoro. My husband was very excited at the specials menu as it had a fish stew which he has always fancied but never tried. Sadly we were told that the stew was off so he ordered Linguine Gamberi (linguini tiger prawns and fresh chilli in a tomato sauce)
After about 10-15 mins, our food arrived - they are served in large pasta bowls so it doesn't immediately look like you have got a massive portion size however it became evident that it was deceptively filling!
After the parmesan and black pepper were offered we tucked in - mine was a delight, the spaghetti was cooked to perfection and the sauce was deep and rich - and plenty of it. There were also a handful of whole santos tomatoes and some chunks of torn mozzarella which melted with the heat of the food mmmm!
My husband started off a little underwhelmed - I could see that there wasn't enough sauce and the linguini looked a tiny bit dry. He tasted my sauce and said there was a definite difference as mine was far tastier. The chillis provided a good kick though and the prawns were juicy - as the meal went on he declared "this is getting better as I go on" so we finished our bowls very satisfied indeed!
We decided to share a dessert and chose the wonderful sounding Torta Zizzi - a warm plum, almond, fig and pistachio tart, served with vanilla ice cream
It took a while to arrive, not that we minded but even so, our waitress apologised.
I could write forever and still not describe just how good this tasted! Plenty of creamy vanilla ice cream set this off perfectly I could happily have eaten one or maybe two to myself!
** OVERALL IMPRESSION **
The bill came to a very reasonable £31.50. I must add that we did have a voucher but it was 2 mains for £12 - with our choices of mains, it meant that we saved £5.90 by using our voucher but I'm sure if you chose the most expensive dishes on the menu the saving could be much more.
In my opinion, the quality of food and menu choice makes this a step up from Pizza Express and Ask. Specifically, I was really impressed with the surroundings and the service of the Didsbury branch - I walked out of there happy, impressed and nicely full - I will definitely be returning!