Zizzi has been a pretty prominent part of my Cheltenham family life for the last three and a half years, and here we were again, celebrating yet another birthday in our ‘family favourite’. I first visited the beautiful church building for my 18th birthday, which was coincidentally three months before I packed up and flew the spa town nest, and since then we have somehow ended up eating there for every single family birthday and special occasion. I’ve always considered our unspoken family motto to be ‘Variety is the Spice of Life’, and we do tend to mix it up when it comes to other aspects of our life, but this place was just so enchanting that we couldn’t stay away.
There are many ways in which Zizzi is unique although, ironically, they are part of a chain of over 100 restaurants which is owned by the almost-as-popular ASK. Generally, I am unimpressed by chain restaurants and find them to be fairly generic with bland food and poor service, however, Zizzi ticks all the boxes. Our waitress was excellent and very attentive; the food was delicious, taking very little time to be served after ordering.
Located just outside the town centre on Suffolk Square, Zizzi is located in St James Church so benefits from a special atmosphere and beautiful interior. The building has a spectacular double-floored setting, with dining on the ground floor and a bar upstairs. Diners are in full view of the incredible open kitchen, where you can see the hard-working chefs cooking pizzas in the large, wood burning oven.
To start, I shared the Italian Bread Board (£3.95) with a slightly broke younger sibling, which included Altamura, dough sticks and olive breads, which you can enjoy with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The restaurant has a good selection of platters to share, particularly some delicious antipasti boards.
For my main meal, I debated long and hard between the Diavola Pizza (£8.95) and the Penne Della Casa (£8.95) - smoked pancetta and pan-roasted chicken with baby spinach and a cream and mushroom sauce; finally settling on the pizza though I instantly regretted my choice, as is procedure. The pizza topping included spicy pepperoni with Roquito and green chillis, juicy tomato and mozzarella; a mix that worked quite well, especially with a drizzle of chilli oil which I have become nothing short of obsessed with of late.
Kindly, Zizzi allows their customers to bring in their own birthday cakes if they wish - which is what we did – and will bring it out after your main course with a complimentary candle. Thankfully, they aren’t one of these restaurants that believe in bellowing out ‘Happy Birthday’ in front of all the other diners or I really doubt we would have ever returned.
A unique aspect of the Zizzi website is their allergen and suitability menu, which lists exactly what each item on the menu contains for those who have to be careful with allergies, including milk, gluten, nuts, alcohol and shellfish. You can find this information by visiting www.zizzi.co.uk.