My original visit to Zucca was boozy and blurry, and I came away from it knowing I'd had a fantastic meal but slightly hazy on the finer details. Five months later, I finally made it back for lunch. The place was buzzing, families out with young children and couples lunching. Prices have crept up since I was last here, but it still made for extremely good value as my starter of smoked eel on bruschetta came in at £4.25. Generous streaks of smoky, oily fish nestled amongst the finely sliced fennel, bursts of brine and saltiness from the capers. I only wished for a bit of acidity for balance.
I couldn't come to Zucca and not have one of their pastas; the special of the day was oxtail rigatoni. I was under the impression that rigatoni were big flappy tubes, whereas these seemed very mini. Either way, the pasta was cooked perfectly, enrobed in the deeply meaty sauce and topped generously with Parmesan. It was a healthy starter portion at £7 and towards the end I regretted the previous gorge on foccacia dipped in their gorgeously fruity olive oil.
I'm a huge fan of polenta so I couldn't resist the slow-cooked octopus with wet polenta. The octopus was deliciously tender in its tomato sauce, the polenta surrounded with more of that olive oil but I felt it a bit one dimensional and it could have done with another texture. Again, my companion had the much-lauded veal chop; again, I was insanely jealous.
Stuffed to the brim we declined dessert and opted for mint tea instead. At £40 per head including a bottle of wine, it's not cheap but for the quality of the food, it's definitely good value.
184 Bermondsey Street,
London SE1 3TQ
Tel: 020 7378 6809