Stuffed with Zizzi-ness
Zizzi, Victoria Square, Belfast
Victoria Square has seen the rise and demise of a number of restaurants over the past few years. From the continuing success of Cosmo and TGI Friday, to the closure of Gourmet Burger Bar, Spurs and most recently (to my utter disappointment), Chiquito’s.
Kua Aina and Five Guys are among the newcomers and they’ve definitely made a good start in the race. And now along comes the next hopeful, Zizzi.
Now I don’t like admitting this but I remember the days when, if you were heading out for dinner to an Italian in town it was going to be one of pretty much 2 places, Speranzas or Villa Italia. Both great, but Belfast has imploded with restaurants over past decade or so covering every cuisine going and there’s now no shortage of Italian eateries in our capital.
The location of Zizzi is a prime example of this. Perched somewhat daringly between Pizza Express and Prezzo, Zizzi makes up a neighbouring trio of Italian restaurant chains. But I doubt they are too concerned about the immediate competition. They’ve done this 143 times before and hitting their gross 144th in Belfast, I reckon they will relish the challenge.
I was lucky enough to be asked to attend Zizzi’s official and very well put together launch event last Thursday. So I went along to see how they ‘dough’ things (sorry!).
The first thing you notice is the sign, as it should be I guess. Dazzlingly lit it definitely stands out as you get to the top of the escalator. Inside is quite open and spacious to the front with a corridor of booths and tables leading to the back along which you will find a mural unique to this Zizzi only, expertly designed by Hanna, one of Zizzi’s own.
Really loving the decor in here. Warm polished newness and a hint of industrial rough with the exposed pipes and lighting. The centerpiece is a proudly and very deliberate open kitchen area complete with huge pizza oven (naturally). A big plus for me. Watching the team of chefs prepare and cook the food right in front of you is a supreme show of confidence in their food.
We were served up a selection of excellent pizza, fresh ingredients on a thin and very crispy base which works for me. As well as this came trays of meatballs, dough balls, chicken skewers and most notably pulled beef arancini and pumpkin & mozzarella crocchette, particular favourites of mine.
On the extensive menu you have a some nice touches like ‘Baked Pasta Dishes’, ‘Rustica Pizzas’ and ‘Spiedini’ (hanging skewers of either chicken or fish). Some other dishes to look out for are the Sicilian Antipasti, Pulled Beef & Venison Strozzapreti, Lamb Meatballs al Forno (one of the baked pasta dishes) and the Banana & Salted Caramel Sundae, mmmm yes please!
Another great feature of this place is the choice of drinks. As well as pretty tasty cocktails there’s a selection of bottled beers and cider including a wheat beer (nice!). It was a pleasant surprise to see the range on display as opposed to being limited to one or two options. They also serve ‘Skinny’ Prosecco, less sugar, fewer calories, same strength. Something that may prove very popular among health conscious bubbly lovers and it looks set to be a new craze in Belfast.
Zizzi Chief Executive Steve Holmes spoke to the gathered crowd about the early beginnings and development of the impressive space where we were all stood. He explained his vision, philosophy and all about ‘Zizzi-ness’, something unique that each Zizzi employee has. We will see if this Zizzi-ness rubs off on all of you who care to venture in. I would recommend doing so. You will not be disappointed.
by Michael Reid