Monday, 14 April 2014

Zizzi's New Spring Menu | Review

We are all big fans of Italian food, especially Charles and me. Charles definitely prefers eating out if he can choose between pasta or pizza rather than something with chips.
Unfortunately we don't have an Italian Restaurant in our town but just 45 minutes drive we are treated to one of our favourites, Zizzi's.
I first visited Zizzi almost 2 years ago. We were shopping for Harry's first shoes and wanted to pop somewhere for lunch that would be family-friendly and have something on the menu for all of us.

This weekend we were given the chance to go along and try out the new Spring Menu at Zizzi's in Norwich.. I had a look at the menu online for a sneaky peak. Does anyone else do this? I always plan my meals before heading out to a restaurant.
With so many meals to choose from it was hard. The classics are all still there but the new dishes were too tempting to resist, and as we were sat near the open plan style kitchen we had a sneaky look at the food going out to the other diners.
I love being able to watch chefs at work, as did the boys. It also helps me trust that we are having fresh meals cooked by people who clearly love what they are creating.
The Spiedini seemed to be the most popular choice. Available in two varieties pescatore for fish lovers and pollo for those preferring chicken, both versions see a combination of marinated fish or chicken with Mediterranean vegetables. They really did look delicious and every single plate and skewer went back empty.

Executive Chef Angelo Garofalo said: “With a focus on fresh ingredients, the spring menu is inspired by simple ingredients that really deliver on taste. We want to help diners celebrate spring with authentic Italian flavours combined with a contemporary Zizzi twist.”

To start we went for the large Zizzi Antipasti to share. I had this at our first visit as my lunch so it's always been a firm favourite of mine. And once again it didn't disappoint. The portion size is perfect to share and as it's it not too heavy so prepares you perfectly for your main.

Harry's meal was from the children's menu. To start he had some dough sticks, which he really enjoyed and kept him occupied whilst he was colouring too, followed by Spaghetti Bolognese which was quite a big portion (which I don't mind as it's better for them to have too much than not enough) and is full of vegetables. Harry is NOT a fan of vegetables yet didn't turn his nose up and only left about a quarter of the bowl, which we were extremely impressed about. The children's pasta meals are available with either Penne or Spaghetti.
Charles just wanted garlic bread, nothing else. I was reassured by the waitress that this would be substantial enough and she wasn't wrong! It came out on a wooden board, as does the antipasti and other pizzas and is something I really like about eating here, and was more than enough to curb his hunger.
Both boys had a bowl of chocolate ice cream for dessert.

My husband went for the Salmone Broccoli, which is new to the menu for the Spring. Although the salmon was a tiny bit overdone for his usual taste but husband still enjoyed it. Especially after adding some of the chilli oil which is on the table all the time.

For dessert he went for the, again new to the menu, Chocolate and Toffee Nut Sundae. Again this was really popular with the other diners and we lost count of the amount of these that went out and came back empty. My husband's usual dessert choice is something chocolately, so I expected him to go for the Chocolate Tartufo. After seeing all the Sundaes go past to the other diners he couldn't resist. And in his own words "It was perfect. Really nice, really nice. I think desserts are Zizzi's strong point".

Chocolate & Toffee Nut Sundae: Chocolate and crema gelato, banana, whipped mascarpone cream, toffee sauce and caramelised peanuts.

Despite having so many tasty dishes to choose from I decided to go for the Rustica Bistecca Formaggi. Oh my, oh my. I thought I may miss the tomato base of the pizza but I didn't at all. The cheese base was perfect and the addition of the slow roasted tomatoes meant that the taste was still there. The steak was BEAUTIFUL. It was rare so if you don't like rare beef you might want to mention it. The only tiny problem I had was that Harry wanted to try the beef, which I let him as I thought he wouldn't like it. Big mistake, he then stole lots of it, which proves just how tasty it was.

rustica bistecca formaggi: Thinly sliced steak on a cheese base of gorgonzola, gruyère and pecorino. With slow roasted tomatoes, rocket, mozzarella and grana padano.

For dessert I stepped totally out of my comfort zone. Bananas are evil but I really liked the sound of the Chocolate and Banana Calzone. I was informed by the waitress that as the desserts (as with all the other meals) are made fresh you can control how much or how little goes into each dish. So, if you love bananas you can ask for extra, if you don't like them at all, you can ask to have it without. But, I was brave, and asked to have a small amount. 
The chocolate sauce is beautifully rich so for me blocked out the taste of the bananas to an extent (I find them really overpowering but it's just my taste). Although after eating half of the Calzone I had to pick out the rest of the bananas BUT again, this is just because I don't like them. To anyone who does like bananas, you MUST have this dessert.
The hot toffee sauce worked so well with the dough and the chocolate sauce. It was heaven.
This was probably a bit too heavy to have after a pizza but could either be shared (I would say it was big enough to be shared between 2 people) or would be ideal after a pasta dish.

Chocolate & Banana Calzone: Sweet, warm dough filled with banana, chocolate sauce and mascarpone cream. With crema gelato & hot toffee sauce.

One thing I did notice on the menu and was impressed by was the lighter options, such as the new Skinny Prawn and Broccoli Salad, which at under 250 calories balances simple, filling, flavour-packed ingredients with delicious taste. I think it's nice to know that those on a diet aren't restricted to what they can have and can still have the pleasure of eating out without feeling guilty after.

The service at Zizzi's Norwich couldn't be faulted at all. We felt really welcome, we didn't have to wait long for food, and the boys were made a fuss of too. (note: this wasn't purely because we were there to review, we have always had fantastic service when we've visited here).
There was a wonderful relaxed and warm atmosphere, and we left feeling like we'd had not only a fantastic meal but also quality time as a family which we needed after a crazy 3 days.


To add even more flavour to the menu, Zizzi has commissioned up and coming artist Charlie Davis, a recent illustration graduate from Falmouth University in Cornwall. Championed by Zizzi as one to watch in art and design, Charlie has taken inspiration for the new menu from Italian culture to pay homage to the restaurants’ roots. His Venetian themed artwork has used elements of the new dishes and transformed them into cartoon-like characters to create a visual story of the spring menu.

Jo Fawcett, Marketing Director of Zizzi said: “At Zizzi, we have always championed new talent in various industries. Cutting edge illustration and design is at the heart of our restaurants’ culture, that’s why we commissioned Charlie – we love his work and think it is the perfect way to showcase our new spring menu.”

“Bringing Italian culture to our restaurants is in our nature – we want our diners to see food as a celebration; the new artwork demonstrates this perfectly through the Venetian style gathering with the foodie characters, surrounded by delicious food and drink.” 
 We were given a complimentary meal for the purpose of this review.