De­li­cious, fresh pasta at a bar­gain

The Chronicle - - What’s On -

Inside, the look of the place, which is based on the Swan House round­about, is rather sparse and not es­pe­cially wel­com­ing. But once the food started ar­riv­ing from the kitchen, we quickly felt right at home.

A cou­ple of the side dishes – £2.50 each – served as starters, and be­gan the meal on a very promis­ing note.

The sour­dough bread which ar­rived first was worth an en­tire re­view just by it­self: chewy and richly-flavoured, with a crisp crust that was a joy to tear apart with our hands, it let us know that what was to come was go­ing to be good.

Pork and fen­nel meat­balls were tasty with­out be­com­ing medic­i­nal, as fen­nel some­times can. Thin, crisp bread­sticks came with creamy blue cheese and soft, fiery nduja sausage.

The main event is, of course, the pasta, and the hand­made pap­pardelle in spicy am­a­tri­ciana sauce was a per­fect ex­am­ple of how glo­ri­ous fresh pasta can be. The golden rib­bons re­tained just the right amount of bite while show­ing off the pi­quant sauce to its best.

They treat their dried pasta pretty well too: ‘spaghetti mid­night’ made the sim­ple stun­ning, show­ing off thick strands of top-qual­ity pasta with noth­ing but herbs, chili and a glug of good olive oil. There’s not much to it, but done well, as it was here, a dish like this is a real treat.

On the pud­ding-front, there’s an­other small but im­pres­sive se­lec­tion, all at £4 each.

Mint and dark choco­late truf­fles were ob­scenely, beau­ti­fully rich, and came topped with Per­sian candy floss. I’d never come across this Ira­nian del­i­cacy be­fore, and was a lit­tle con­cerned that they’d topped our dish with a hand­ful of sheeps’ wool, but our wait­ress was quick to ex­plain, and the sug­ary treat turned out to have a pleas­ingly com­plex flavour, not un­like good caramel pop­corn.

Ba­nana cake with tof­fee sauce was squidgy and topped with a huge help­ing of sticky, slicky-smooth sauce.

With fan­tas­tic food, charm­ing ser­vice and laugh­ably low prices, Zuc­cini is def­i­nitely worth a visit for a cheap but ex­tremely en­joy­able night out.

Back home – stuffed, but aided by a few will­ing vol­un­teers – we set about try­ing our take­away dishes. Al­though the food was still hot when we got it back, it’s fair to say that pasta isn’t one of those dishes that trav­els bril­liantly.

It tends to con­geal just a lit­tle bit as it sits in the card­board boxes, and even a short jour­ney home has an im­pact.

Fresh pasta like this should re­ally come straight from the kitchen, to be de­voured be­fore it has stopped steam­ing.

Still, you can stick it on a plate and whisk it about a bit and it’s still pretty ex­cel­lent.

The star of our eat-out se­lec­tion was the ‘six hour’ beef shin ragu, on pap­pardelle. You can taste ev­ery minute of those six hours in this melt­ingly soft beef.

A “clas­sic” tomato sauce on tagli­atelle was a de­light: beau­ti­fully rich and pun­gent with basil, sim­ple in­gre­di­ents were show­cased to their ab­so­lute best. Pasta and tomato sauce may sound like a run-of-the-mill tea – some­thing to whip up in min­utes af­ter you get home from work – but un­less you hap­pen to be an Ital­ian grandma with se­ri­ous tal­ent in the kitchen, this dish is prob­a­bly on a dif­fer­ent level.

An­other se­lec­tion from the dry pasta – the car­bonara – was top-notch. Deca­dently vis­cous sauce clung to ex­cel­lent spaghetti which was, again, per­fectly cooked.

Chefs had been just gen­er­ous enough with the sauce – car­bonara shouldn’t be swim­ming, but if you serve too lit­tle it can end up dry and dis­ap­point­ing. No risk of that at Zuc­chini, where the tricky line has been toed per­fectly.

Over­all, these are great dishes, which are prob­a­bly slightly bet­ter eaten in, but still pretty good at home.

I don’t think pasta is mak­ing any se­ri­ous chal­lenge to pizza as the Ital­ian take­away of the North East’s choice, but cer­tainly, if you work nearby, a tub of pasta from Zuc­chini would make a pretty fan­tas­tic lunch, and won’t set you back much more than a fiver.

Along­side our main meals, we en­joyed a Peroni and a good, strong, tasty cap­puc­cino.

Again, the value was great – £3 for my beer, £2 for the cof­fee. I imag­ine they do the cof­fees to take away, and they’re cer­tainly bet­ter than what the chain cof­fee shops are knock­ing out.

The drinks se­lec­tion in gen­eral is lim­ited, but cheap: you can have a house red or a house white for £3 a glass or £15.50 a bot­tle, there’s prosecco if you want some­thing fizzy and Belli­nis if you’re in a cock­tail mood. The value is a lot of what re­ally stands out. You’re get­ting freshly made, de­li­cious pasta, in tasty sauces, for £8 at the very most, and £4.50 for the cheap­est dishes.

We ate what was ef­fec­tively a hefty three course meal for two, with a drink each, and took three dishes home – all for just un­der £50.

I imag­ine they keep the costs down partly by keep­ing the menu lim­ited, but when ev­ery item is lov­ingly cooked and top-qual­ity, that’s not re­ally some­thing you can com­plain about.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.