Zizzi boasts a menu packed with rustic Italian classics served in a contemporary setting.
This light, spacious, airy restaurant is located in the recently developed Spinningfields area overlooking the River Irwell. Its outside terrace is an enjoyable place to be on balmy summer evenings but, if the weather lets you down, you can still enjoy the riverside views through Zizzi’s huge windows. With very modern decor and lots of dark wood, Zizzi has a very polished and clean feel. But the open kitchen and enormous stone bake oven manage to give the restaurant a rustic Tuscan vibe, as well as giving you the added bonus of being able to see your meal being prepared.
Zizzi has a very relaxed, friendly atmosphere and is equally popular with young families, groups of friends and couples of all ages. The staff are welcoming and attentive and are always on hand to pour wine or clear plates. Their polite, professional manner is however, somewhat let down by their appearance. Their uniform of jeans and light brown shirts may help to promote an informal, laid-back atmosphere, but it also acts as a reminder that you are in a chain restaurant.
The food, unlike the uniforms, makes you completely forget that Zizzi is part of a chain. The autumn menu has some tasty additions to an already mouth watering list. The tangy tomato pesto bread (£3.75) is a great way to begin your meal and is ideal for sharing between friends if you don’t want a heavy starter. The delicious crostini formaggio de capra is a triumph and is probably the best starter on the menu. The soft, tangy goat’s cheese, sweet, sticky caramelised onions and light, crispy ciabatta bread on a bed of refreshing salad leaves is finished off perfectly by the sweet and peppery honey and mustard dressing. At £4.65 it is a delicious and inexpensive treat.
For your main course, you can choose from a selection of tempting pastas, pizzas and risottos, as well as a range of meat and fish dishes. The rigatoni con pollo e funghi is a robust and flavoursome dish and is excellent value for money at £8.50. The tender chicken breast, sweet balsamic-infused onions, roasted portobello mushrooms and rich tomato sauce infused with rosemary oozes flavour with every mouthful and is a hearty Italian delight.
For seafood lovers, the risotto de pesce (£11.95) certainly hits the spot. The creamy risotto has tiger prawns, oak-roasted salmon and calamari and abounds with zesty lemon and hot chilli; it is packed with wonderful flavours and textures.
Zizzi’s drinks menu is somewhat lacking in the lager and beer department. They do nothing at all on draught and only offer two different types of Italian bottled beer, ranging in price from £3.15 for a 330ml bottle of Peroni to £5.95 for the larger 660ml bottle. The wine list is thankfully much more substantial, offering twenty-two different kinds of Italian whites, reds, roses and sparkling wines. If choosing a white wine, the dry and crisp Frascati Superiore (£13.55), with peachy undertones, is a good all rounder going well with most pizzas, creamy risottos and fish dishes. If you are going for a rich, tomato based pasta dish or a steak, the robust red Valpolicella Sartori (£14.55), with its deep colour and hint of blackberry, is a perfect match.
The Last Word
The decor and surroundings may remind you that you are in a new shiny area of Manchester, but once you taste the hearty Italian food that Zizzi has to offer, you will feel like you have been transported to an authentic Italian bistro. The consistently high standard of food and service, the tasty, inexpensive menu and unpretentious atmosphere will keep you coming back for more.