Zizzi’s Restaurant, Gandy Street by Lauren Heath

Zizzi’s Restaurant, 21 GANDY STREET, EX4 3LS   Tel: 01392 274737

Over Christmas time, we visited Zizzi in Bristol whilst away on a family mini break. For a chain, we were suitably impressed by the food considering its mass appeal. We also found it spacious and well decorated with a cool vibe.

We decided to give the Exeter one a go for our date night this month and although a chain is definitely not our first choice, we had some vouchers to use up so thought it a good enough reason to give Zizzi another go. From a blogging point of view, we were very interested in what appeals to the masses, and that is consistency. So would this be the same, and as good, as Bristol?

I work opposite Zizzi and always admire its spacious appearance, especially with the light and airy conservatory at the rear so was quite looking forward to it.

On arrival at 7:15pm, we were very promptly greeted by a smiley member of staff. The place was already fairly full and as we were led to our table to the right, a little way near the back of the restaurant, I noted how little space there was between the tables and the fact I had to go around a fake tree (!). Thankfully, our table was in a spacious corner.

We had a browse of the menu online earlier in the day as due to my love of all food, I tend to procrastinate when choosing as I could quite happily eat a bit of everything. Steve would have normally gone for the squid, which was really good at Bristol, but I nudged him to go for something we wouldn’t normally make at home so he chose the Fonduta Formaggi, a melting pot of gorgonzola, gruyère and pecorino cheese with ‘little soul’ bread for dipping priced at £5.95.

TFonduta Formaggihe soul breads were little baked nuggets of light and fluffy bread with a crisp outer shell, served well seasoned and super-hot, he had to withhold immediate dunking even with his asbestos hands.

The bread was a perfect portion to match the quantity of cheese. The fondue itself almost spot on; a good balance of flavours, great temperature without burning your mouth but would have liked the addition of a stringy cheese for some fondue fun. The pecorina really shone through at the height of the flavour, with a non-sickly sweetness – it was delicious.

They had a Mushroom Brindisi on the specials for £5.95 and so I went for this as I adore mushrooms. The description stated creamy mushrooms and smoked mozzarella oven baked on their dough, then finished with chopped parsley, grated riserva, crispy sage & smoked garlic oil. When it arrived, my heart sank a little.

It was an average portion size for a starter, but it was a bit sparse on the quantity of sauce and physical mushrooms. The base of the bread was a little too crispy which made it difficult to cut without flinging a piece from my table to the next. It was nice; not a great word when it comes to food. I couldn’t taste any garlic oil and I can’t recall anything cheesy apart from the mozzarella and I had to season it as well. Due to lack of sauce, I had some crusty bits left naked, and gladly leant across the table to steal some of Steve’s fondue! A dish that needs improvement I’d say.

The restaurant was definitely getting busier at this point. Chains have their place; they tend to please all tastes and budgets. There was an eclectic mix of people – various ages, couples, groups, all out for an easy meal, comfortable social situation and dinner without having to cook it. The kitchens are ‘open’ so you can see the chef’s cooking and you could see across the whole restaurant and feel the buzz of the evening.

We had a few minutes break after our starters, before the waitress turned up with our mains having not cleared our starter plates. Our impression is the kitchen had cooked it without her signal, perhaps in haste to cope with the ever filling restaurant but she coped with the situation with ease.

Carnosa Pizza Rustica

Steve had ordered the Rustica Pizza Carnoso, a white base of Fior di Latte and smoked mozzarella, truffle-infused salami, crispy wild boar prosciutto, mushrooms, Grana Padano, crispy sage leaves & smoked garlic oil. This is where Zizzi’s has found a small place in his heart – a pizza chain that does a pizza without a tomato base. A good size, very attractively decorated and a truffle triumph that any truffle sniffing pig would seek out from a mile away. This does was it says on the tin! The truffle in the salami is very evident and sings in your mouth but does not overpower the dish. The meats complement each other well and the crispy sage cuts through the overall richness. An indulgent pizza fairly priced at £13.25.

Steve also opted for the side of Tuscan potatoes, they were well roasted, but that’s as far as it goes. Not particularly well flavoured and at £3.50 for 6 new potatoes cut in half, was a bit overpriced. They also arrived after we questioned their whereabouts.

My choice of Calzone Pollo Spinaci was also delicious, although the dough was not as well cooked on the top as I would have liked. Well filled with roast chicken, speck, spinach, mushrooms and thyme in a creamy mozzarella and béchamel sauce it is also topped with crispy coppa ham which just adds a bit of extra smoke and crunch to a very saucy affair. It seemed smaller than I recall from Bristol but the flavour was exactly the same and I enjoyed it just as much second time round – there you go, consistency has been found. It came with a nice little dipping pot of tomato passata-come-salsa which was great for dipping the calzone edges in. A filling main at £11.95.

Sticky Salted Caramel Pudding

We could just about fit a pudding in, deciding to share one and went for the Sticky Salted Caramel Pudding, described as warm and gooey served with crushed honeycomb, salted caramel and lavender sauce and a white chocolate and caramel pecan swirl gelato. The caramel sauce was cold and we weren’t sure if this was an error or deliberate, but it was silky smooth in texture. We believe it should have been warm in order to pour over the pudding but that’s just our take on it. The pudding was hot, light and tasty and the ice cream and sauce delicious, however we were questioning what the original description was as we both noted there was no taste of lavender and the ice cream seemed to be missing any swirls or other flavours.

An hour and 15 minutes had gone by and we had come to the end of our visit at Zizzi’s. I must say the waitress was very good and she smiled genuinely throughout. It was a short affair but that suited us in that it had left plenty of evening left to go and indulge in some drinks elsewhere…so off we went down the cobbles of Gandy Street back into the heart of the city, content overall, knowing where it wasn’t perfect they would gain consistency through doing it all over again the next day and the day after that for others to enjoy.

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