Italian meal was not Zizzipointing

Excuse the title.

I just went out for a meal with my flat mates to a chain restaurant called Zizzi. Supposedly it’s a chain anyway, I don’t think we have them in Cornwall, but that’s not really important.

The meal started out as an idea to go to a new eating place around the corner from our flat called Bill’s, but we looked at the menu and it seemed a bit… samey. So Zizzi’s it was.

The first thing I noticed was how spacious the Eastbourne incarnation of the company was. A huge, mainly white room, dominated by the open kitchen which juts out in one corner, and a full wall of windows so you can see the wonderful view of the pubs that I drink too much at before sports team socials on a Wednesday foliage. Yes, lovely flowers.

All the necessary cutlery was already there. One of my dinner guests praised the sturdy, chunky nature of the forks, and she was right. In fact, all the apparatus, including the chilled, icy drink tumblers, space-age water jug and authentic-feeling lumps of wood on which the food was served was very sturdy, functional and just felt like it would last for 50 years. That’s a nice touch.

STARTER

Only a couple of us ordered starters. Of course, I was one of them, and I went for the Italian bread bucket. This was a long, thin, but chunky piece of wood with four soft bread sticks and two hot pieces of gorgeous focaccia. I could quite easily have eaten the lovely, crispy bread as a main, but that was not an option. The breads came with a small metal jug, into which I poured Olive Oil and Balsamic vinegar. This is a starter I’m slightly familiar with, it’s a favourite at summer barbeques.

Meal component rating:
Value: 9/10
Taste: 8/10
Overall: 8.5/10

MAIN

I was initially torn between a crab and pasta combination, a calzone, and an aubergine-based pasta dish. I love aubergines and other Mediterranean veggies, but I decided to go for the calzone, as I’ve never had one before. What I was expecting was a gooey, folded over pizza (friends who have had them are not terribly descriptive) but what I actually got was something that resembled very nicely an enormous pasty. You don’t need telling about my misfortune with that item of food, though. If you do want to hear about pasty misfortunes in Eastbourne, here is your best bet.

Oh how I wanted to just pick it up...
Oh how I wanted to just pick it up…

So yes, I was impressed by the girth of the calzone. I sliced ‘er up and found to my surprise no filling in the first cut. I’m not having much luck with first cuts/bites at the moment. Anywho, the next few cuts revealed the lovely tomatoey goop inside. There was a strong garlic and basil flavour as there so often is in Italian food, what I was not expecting was the heat of peppers. There were odd bits of chili pepper and a ring of Jalapeno at the end, providing the terminal heat of the meal. I can handle a Jalapeno, I was just not expecting it. There was also a mish-mash of Bolognese and meatballs, both providing slightly different, but delicious components to the innards.

Truth be told, I think I was probably eating the meal wrong. I ate it from end to end, but if I had taken a long, slim lengthways cut, I would have recieved every different flavour at once: tomatoes, bolognese, meatballs and of course, cheese. However, my method delivered distinct stages to the meal, basically it felt like I was eating three thirds of different pizzas, but that’s hardly a bad thing at all. It too was served on a large board, but it only took up half the space. The other half was left to a tiny metal jug with some sort of tomato-based accompaniment. It wasn’t salsa – to be honest I don’t really know what it was called, but it wasn’t totally necessary in helping me enjoy the food. I believe it cost about £11.

Meal Component Rating
Value: 8/10
Taste: 8/10
Overall: 8/10

DESSERT

Let’s not kid ourselves here – desserts are the best part of the meal, in any case. It was here. There were cakes, sundaes and tiramisu on the menu, as well as panna cotta. I’ve never had the latter two puds before, so it was a toss-up between then, but ultimately, I opted for a panna cotta.

Wobble! Wob-wobblewobblewobble! (SwedeMason)
Wobble! Wob-wobblewobblewobble! (SwedeMason)

As I say, I’ve never had one of these before, but I have an idea (thanks MasterChef) of what it’s supposed to be like. It was gloriously wobbly and well-set, with a wonderful moussy texture inside and creamy vanilla flavour. It was like eating a squidgy cloud. There was a nice, tart raspberry coulis on the side too, just taking the sweet edge off enough to notch it down from ‘overly sickly’ to ‘gloriously balanced’.

Needless to say, I polished it off, and at £5 I could not complain at all. I did try a touch of my flatmate’s chocolate melt, which is a bit like a fondant, but it was incredibly powerful. I felt like I had been knocked out with a solid brick of chocolate powder from just one bite. It was at that moment that I realised I had made a good choice in my pud pud.

Meal Component Rating
Value: 9/10
Taste: 10/10
Overall: 9/10

MEAL RATING
Value: 8/10
Starter: 8.5/10
Main: 9/10
Dessert: 9.5/10
Service: 7.5/10
Company: 10/10 (Olivia, Harry, Ieuan, you are all massive nobs and I will miss living with you ❤ )

Overall: 8.5/10

I’m going to Rome in a month or so, so it will be interesting to see how Anglicised Italian food stacks up, but while my feet are planted firmly in Blighty, I must say that this food is pretty superb.

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