Free-for-all

1 March 2008

Linsey Brown likes the food and the prices at Zizzi, but the service leaves something to be desired

…………………………………………………………………………………….

My housemates and I emerged from the mist of Parker’s Piece into the warmth of Zizzi’s at 7pm last Tuesday. Expecting it to be quiet, we were surprised to find it was very busy, and our plan for a quick dinner went out the window. Apparently we weren’t the only ones whose mums had posted us a Daily Telegraph half-price main course voucher, and moreover, everybody was using it tonight! Zizzi’s is big, though, so there still wasn’t any problem getting a table, and the waitress gave us a window table in the corner. We like to think this was a ploy to attract more customers, but it’s more likely she wanted to keep five potentially rowdy students away from other customers!

Eventually she came back and gave us the menus. Zizzi’s menu is excellent, with plenty of choice and some dishes that stand out from your average Italian chain restaurant. However, the waitress quickly warned us that several dishes weren’t available that night…you guessed it, due to the Telegraph offer once more. To start, we opted for mozzarella pizza bread topped with caramelized onions to share. For five cash-strapped students this was a good choice–it worked out at a pound each and kept us going…as it turned out we would have to wait a while for our main courses. Meanwhile, we had our wine to be getting on with. We ordered a bottle of house red and a house white and, although I’m no connoisseur, I could tell that the red was a gem–light and fruity; it certainly went down very well!

Fifteen minutes later a main course finally arrived. Unfortunately it came on its own. Realising that the other meals were not imminently arriving, we chose someone to go find out what was happening. Apparently it was the waiter’s mistake: the meal had been meant for another table. So back it went. Some time later the main courses arrived, this time together, and looking good. Two of us had opted to share two main courses: a Clarissa Calzone, stuffed with pesto, tomato, goat’s cheese and rocket, and a Chicken and Goat’s Cheese Salad. Both were delicious, laden with exciting Italian flavours. Two of the guys had mozzarella pizzas, which were huge, crispy and very tasty–and the chef didn’t skimp on the cheese.

We were too full for dessert–you can’t fault Zizzi’s on the portion sizes–and we asked for the bill. This was perhaps the best moment of the evening. It came to just under £10 each, and considering the vast amounts of wine we had drunk, this was a happy surprise for our overdrafts. Even without the voucher, Zizzi’s is reasonably priced, and although the service wasn’t up to its usual standard on the night we went, I would still recommend it as somewhere for students to go, especially in a large group.