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Love Italian food? Of course you do! Eevee’s food guru, Mark Moore reviews Zizzi and asks whether everyone’s favourite Italian eatery has lost its zing…

After experiencing Zizzi restaurant in Romford, my date assured me that her home-town version of this southern Italian eatery was of a far higher standard. With her words ringing in my ears, I decided to take the plunge and travel the not-so-inconsiderable 250 miles to give the Colchester version of Zizzi the once over. Obviously seeing my date again was a delicious side attraction.
Located on the corner of a busy traffic lights junction, this simple spacious and airy restaurant offers a beautiful scenic view of cars letting out exhaust fumes and white van drivers aptly stalling up the hill.
Thankfully, our waiter for the afternoon did not stall in greeting us with a relaxed casual manner that instantly set me at ease. Ordering drinks whilst perusing the delights the menu had to offer, in spite of already knowing full well in advance what I would be having, always seems to set the tone for any lunch date……..and make no mistake, this was a date.

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After a few minutes of back and forth chat, we went for starters of Calamari and Garlic bread with Mozzarella and Balsamic glazed onions. Both came relatively promptly, looked nice presented on a chopping board and a small metal bucket…I don’t remember ordering the Scampi?!
While there was nothing wrong with the Garlic bread per se, it really was over powered by the onions that were beautifully sweet but literally choking the Garlic into submission –  to the point where I could well have been eating glazed onions on Mighty White. As for the Calamari, I always worry when I don’t see any tentacles and instead can only see perfectly round battered circles of alleged squid – just (for example) like the ones supermarkets sell in freezers. Hmm…

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Not being asked if we were enjoying the starters actually made for a refreshing change, especially as I could see the waiter was clearly busy with the other 3 tables that were clogging up the lunch-time service.
My main of Ravioli Di Capra, Goats’ cheese stuffed ravioli with pesto, lacked the array of cherry tomatoes the menu promised and Romford Zizzi had delivered (for the record, 3 of the same species of anything does not constitute an ‘array’). Also lacking was the punchy flavour of Goats cheese, a decent helping of Pesto or the sweet tomato ragu that pulled the dish together last time out.
My date seemed to enjoy her Calzone Carne Piccante – at least until she realised there was only one piece of Chicken in the whole dish – and the unwelcome heat of Jalapeno chilli that was not mentioned on the menu.

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Maybe I am being overly harsh as it did only come to £36 without service and being the generous fellow that I am, and not wanting to look like Scrooge in front of my date, left a £4 tip which on this occasion was overly generous.
My advice is maybe try it on a busier evening when the chefs and waiting staff may well be on top form and not asleep on the job, though thinking about it, this restaurant is based on Italian –  I thought they only had siestas in Spain?