Zucca is another restaurant I’ve been wanting to try for a while (along with Toni’s next door). Zucca is an Italian restaurant owned by Ricky Turilli who previously owned Andiamo and Porcini and a couple of others, so it has some pedigree.
I quite like restaurants that are located in converted houses, they seem to have more character and sometimes even a homely feel. Zucca is one of thos places. The downstairs section use to be a deli but is now a bar and lounge with restaurant tables on the front and back verandas. Upstairs is the main dining area, a private dining room and a balcony with some small tables. The private dining room could seat up to 12 people and looks like a nice idea for a celebration dinner of some sorts.
The walls throughout are adorned with thousands of bottle openers and corkscrews from around the world, a very impressive collection which must have taken years to accumulate. We were seated in the main dining area upstairs, the private dining room was an option but it was a very hot evening and the main area was a lot cooler thanks to a big fan and a subtle through draft.
Ricky was very welcoming and friendly, an advantage of owner run establishments. He explained to us that we can either order a la carte, or we could go for the family eating option. The family eating option would involve several courses of various dishes which we would all taste and share, cost would be R180 per head. Instinctively we went for the family eating option, but realised on second thought that we were pressed for time and so ended up ordering a la carte. We did make a pact to return and try the family eating option, perhaps in the private dining room.
I ordered a pizza, the Basil Chicken (R57.50), which was similar to what I order at Col’caccio. I wasn’t wild about it. They were quite frugal with the toppings, barely a piece of chicken and avo per piece of pizza. The edges were burnt which kept corrupting the taste of the pizza. The person next to me had the Margherita pizza (R39.50) which looked fine, but I don’t understand why anyone would order a pizza without toppings. Other dishes we tried were the Seared Tuna served with veggies and the Filetto Porcini (R115.50) which was grilled fillet steak topped with porcini mushrooms, served with grilled mediterranean vegetables. It was a really hot night so nobody braved the Oxtail (R87.50) or the Oso Bucco, but I hear they are fabulous. Nobody at our table had a pasta, although one person did have the Lasagne (R64.50) which he seemed to enjoy but I would have preferred more meat and more sauce.
The service was good, the waitress remembered who ordered what at our table of 12 which is always impressive. Plus she never forgot miscellaneous drink orders. Talking about drinks, I didn’t study the wine menu but got the impression it was reasonably priced.
Friends who eat there often tell me their meals are sometimes great, sometimes average but never bad. Considering the prices are not unreasonable, and the place has a nice atmosphere and friendly staff all seasoned with a hint of genuine Italy, I would go back. In fact, I’m looking forward to trying the family dining option.
84 Kloof Street, Gardens
Tel: 021 423 7331