|High Road Location or Inspired Italian Cuisine?|
Emma Brophy ponders the secret of Zizzi's success
Zizzi is one Chiswick eatery that divides my family - the children love it and the parents cannot work out why.
Of course, they’re not concerned by erratic service, or that have to share two adult sized pizzas because there is no children’s menu, or that a small glass of juice costs £2.25, but it vexes us.
So when we asked our middle child to choose where we would have the last supper of the Christmas holidays and she named Zizzi, we both kicked ourselves for asking the question. Still at least she didn’t choose Giraffe so grateful for small mercies we set for the High Road, the children’s excitement instilling cautious optimism in their parents.
Zizzi seems to be a place that’s either loved or loathed with few sitting on the fence between.
There’s no denying the restaurant is aesthetically pleasing with its dark wood and terracotta and the open clay pizza oven with its roaring fire certainly draws you in on a cold winter’s day, but I can’t help thinking that it’s the location that makes it a popular choice rather than the food.
The waitress’ surly demeanour was all it took for the parental optimism to evaporate but, as expected, went completely unnoticed by the children who ironically could have taught her a thing or too about being surly!
Drinks first – we ordered two orange juices and an apple juice at £2.25 each, one tomato juice at £1.80 (odd because the neither of the two previous varieties were freshly squeezed) and a mineral water £1.85.
To eat the children shared two adult sized Margheritas £6.25 each (children's portions are available for some of the pasta dishes), and the adults Pappa Fruti Mare £7.75 (pasta with a tomato and seafood sauce) and Risotto Di Pollo £9.95 (mushroom risotto with chicken wrapped in Parma ham).
Predictably the children wolfed down every scrap of the pizza which they loved. The pasta part of the Pappa Fruti Mare was as it should be but the sauce was disappointingly watery and lacked any real flavour. The risotto would have been delicious had it not been micro-waved and was therefore half blisteringly hot and half tepid. The chicken did little to raise the dish's game because it was overcooked as was the Parma ham it came wrapped in so much so it was almost impossible to cut let alone eat.
As I would encourage all diners to do when they receive a sub-standard dish, I complained.
From the waitress, my complaint received a shrug and a mumbled “Do you want another one?”.
Amusingly from my children it received a chorus of “Mummmm, don’t get all stroppy” and “Mummmm you’re sooo embarrassing!” (Says she who I’ve wanted to disown many a time in the nine years she has been alive for causing much more of a scene than I ever could.)
I decided to make the best of what I had but only because I didn’t want to make the rest of the family miss the start of ‘Enchanted’ (which, by the way, was a great film) and asked that my comments be passed onto the chef.
The bill came to £40.60 but we did not leave a tip even with the excessive table cleaning that began in earnest as we put our coats on to leave.
It's fair to say that Zizzi wouldn’t be my first choice for a family outing even though I have had some decent meals there but they clearly do something right because it’s invariably busy. Whether that’s down to location or food I guess is a matter upon which my children and their parents will have to agree to differ.
January 10, 2008