So the newlyweds are back from their honeymoon, and very kindly offered to take me out to dinner to say thanks for my contribution to the wedding (which was basically getting so stressed over making two cupcake towers that I nearly cried and turned up at the service with buttercream still in my hair, but hey ho). Zaza is a small chain and the Berkhamsted one is quite new. My Dad and his wife (eek!) have been there a couple of times and really liked it, so I jumped at the chance to go.
The place is utterly delightful. It’s dotted all around with twinkle fairy lights and candles, and the decor is modern and sleek. Upstairs there is, apparently, a whole tree all decked with fairy lights too (you can see a picture of it on their website), but old grumpy pants didn’t want to sit upstairs (he’s a people watcher) and made the lovely staff move all their bookings around so we could sit downstairs (it was very busy and we noticed a couple of people being turned away – always a good sign on a Thursday night).
For a starter, I chose the Calamari Fritti – deliciously crispy coated, tender calamari, served with a tangy tartar sauce – the portion was so big I had to enlist help to finish it lest I didn’t eat my main course!
My Dad had the Paté di Fegato, a wild mushroom and chicken liver paté, served with an onion marmalade, which I didn’t try, but he said it was delicious.
For my main course, I went for the Coda di Rospo: a roasted fillet of monkfish, wrapped with Prosciutto on a bed of roasted seasonal vegetables with roasted vine cherry tomatoes (£15.90). The monkfish was TO DIE FOR, tender and succulent, and enhanced by the delightfully savoury proscuitto. My one teeny moan, and it’s a small one, is – as you can probably see – the seasonal vegetables were a bit overcooked, with a few burned bits which left a rather bitter taste in the mouth. But honestly, the monkfish was so good that I wasn’t bothered about leaving a few bits of veg.
All of this was washed down with a delightful bottle of Chiaretto Doc – Podere De Roveri (£18.90) a fresh, dry rosé (well, it is Spring at last).
We were all too stuffed for desserts, but with the bill, the waiter brought an ice cold bottle of Limoncello which is a delicious way to end a meal (I’m not a coffee lover) and after pouring me and Allison a teeny shot each, the Disreputable One scarfed the rest.
Well, he was paying…
Our verdict: a really stylish restaurant with lovely friendly staff, a classic Italian menu and beautifully presented food. I can’t wait to go back with English Dad. Next time I’m going to starve myself so I can have the chocolate fondant too.