During my break away in York, one of the days was rounded off at Zizzi. The only word I use and will likely ever use with a few Zs. Zizzi notes that they are, ‘all about delicious Italian food with a twist’ and naturally one wonders if Zizzi is an Italian word. My Italian friend, Antonella kindly confirmed that it bears no meaning in Italian. However, my research has taught me that with the different spelling ‘zizi’, its definition in the land of la tour Eiffel is certainly not what you’d expect. It’s the French slang for ‘pénis’ which you can tell in English means penis and since I mentioned it is slang, willie/willy is the translation offered by various bilingual dictionaries.
True, as a place to dine, Zizzi may sound like the antithesis to adventurous but what I’ve had both at and from other Zizzis has been nothing but on point. I say ‘from’ thanks to the suggestion of a Zizzi takeaway, resulting in a very decent pasta for someone with a never-ending pasta lust. The takeaway bag looked almost too nice to throw away and the takeaway option was evidently popular at Zizzi, 2 Lendal, York as various delivery guys came and went.
Whilst waiting to be seated, my eyes were drawn to a board advertising their Christmas menus due to its little flashing white lights. The first demonstration of how Zizzi had been getting into the Christmas spirit. It wasn’t that busy but that’s not to say that there was no ambience and it was a welcome change to have so much space between the tables. Plus, despite there being only two of us, we were at a table for four, which enhanced the spacious feel. A candle would have complimented the evening but they rarely seem to be present.
Covering the wall to my left was a vibrant painting full of lilac and white leaves or petals of unknown plants, hinting at a tropical land where the heat is greater. From my position, I could also spot near the entrance the thin logs of beech trees hanging from the ceiling. They were fakes of course but worked. Straight ahead was a set of shelves on wheels, filled with potted plants and glass jars with clip lids, some containing spaghetti. You could imagine its photo in a kitchen design article on how to display your kitchen plants. A Zizzi gift card was on a lower shelf.
By the stairs was a Christmas tree and I appreciate Christmas décor, especially a tree but that wasn’t enough for Zizzi. Within the tree was the cringey sign: ‘Merry Zizzi everyone.’ Not far from the pizza oven were metal bars attached to the ceiling with hanging items such as garlic, somehow maybe trying to suggest that the kitchen uses fresh food, although if I looked too closely at the hanging food array, chances are the tick box for tacky would be ticked. That being said, it didn’t prevent the floor from achieving a sense of elegance.
A bread starter has never failed me and the garlic bread, ‘brushed with garlic and rosemary’ is the snack you’d happily keep on nibbling. It was presented on a wooden slab, neatly cut into strips, elevating the indulgence in something so simple. The texture was soft on top with suitable crisp underneath. Rosemary has been in hiding for a while and its sprinkling added gleam to the taste.
To emphasise that they are different and a cut above the rest, the widely-employed glass bottle with a clip lid for a water jug was far too common for Zizzi. Instead, you poured from stainless steel which almost looked like it could be connected to another component to create a pipe. It can probably master hot beverages too. It’s the industrial-chic of the water jug world.
Unfortunately, the main was hugely disappointing, an occurrence rarely experienced when it comes to pasta. Served in a fancy speckled bowl, with a smaller inner circumference for the cibo (Italian for food), the Ravioli Di Capra, ‘Ravioli parcels filled with goat’s cheese and spinach in a pomodoro sauce, finished with pesto and pine nuts’ sounded like a concoction of healthy goodness which its presentation matched: a multi-textured mélange of green, red and yellow. Although I like goat’s cheese, its consistency was off and deep down I was craving for the ravioli to be coated and filled with tantalising, glorious melted cheese with pockets of crispiness.
Every element should be successful alone but the pesto was unbelievably salty and nobody deserves that. There were what looked like sun-dried cherry tomatoes but they were too strong and the texture needed altering. So the dish was really colliding powers unable to fight or form a treaty, whilst the pine nut inhabitants got on with their daily lives. At least the pomodoro sauce which contained tomatoes unlike the sundried affair was a mild and pleasant refuge in my mouth to counter the rest. The chef got overzealous in his creation and perhaps even too fearful himself to place the fork on the tongue.
Sadly, my pudding compartment was sealed so unusually I ended the night happily sipping down an Earl Grey. A white, gold speckled teapot and a mini milk churn arrived. The ceramic teacup made no appearance as it had to be the handleless glass that can tackle the heat, placed on a saucer which exhibited a pair of sunglasses, a pattern and the words ‘Lisa Connolly for Zizzi.’ Some cinder toffee perched on the saucer, ready to give sweet decadence to the soothing warmth of the tea.
Continuing with the extra frill were the bathroom hand comforts, a lemongrass hand soap as well as a hand lotion. But it seemed that I couldn’t work the lock on two different doors, demanding the sit and arm-stretch exercise.
Anyway, despite the lack of cibo delizioso, it won’t be my last visit and curiosity demands to know what Antonella would say…
Image courtesy of Louis Hansel