Zitto & Bevi

The name Zitto & Bevi is a play on the Italian saying zitto e mangia, which translates as ‘shut up and eat’. Zitto & Bevi however, is an instruction to ‘shut up and drink’ – not that any encouragement is really needed.

On entering we were led downstairs to an intimate and sparingly furnished basement, where we enjoyed a Negroni whilst browsing the menu. Although not as well known as a Campari or Aperol Spritz, the Negroni – which is made up of gin, vermouth and Campari – is becoming increasingly available in British bars and restaurants. It is part of the aperitivo culture which is slowly making its way into the UK, owing to the growing market of both tourists wanting to imitate the bel paese experience at home, and the large Italian community living here.

What may surprise some about the menu is the lack of pizza and sides dishes. However, this is an osteria, not a ristorante or pizzeria. This doesn’t mean that diners are missing out though. On the contrary, it identifies Zitto & Bevi as a more traditional (or original in the UK) addition to Bristol’s Italian food scene. Zitto & Bevi is unassuming and understated, encapsulating exactly what an osteria, or ‘tavern’, is when it’s at home. It’s a bit like sitting at your nonna’s kitchen table.

For starters, I went for the polenta with cod (£5), out of a selection of classic antipasti such as the mozzarella and tomato salad (£4) or the bruschetta with a choice of toppings (£5).

For mains, there are three varieties of lasagne: the classic ragù, Mediterranean vegetables, or salmon (£9). The other dishes also pay homage to simple Italian ingredients, such as the smoked scarmoza (smoked cheese) in the gateau di patate (‘potato cake’, £8). There is also a selection board of cured meats and cheeses (£12) for an even more relaxed finger-food meal. Although not the most exciting menu for vegans and vegetarians, I’m sure the approachable staff would be more than happy to accommodate if necessary.

I picked the amatriciana (£10), a tomato pasta staple in Italian households, from the specials board. Another specials board offering was the currently very fashionable, but simple, cheese and pepper pasta, cacio e pepe. The food, much like the setting, is personal, and above all authentic, made by Italian people for Italian palates (the pasta was unquestionably al-dente).

There is a carefully crafted wine list, red and white, sourced from family-run vineyards. I tried the modest Ulisse – Barbera DOC (£18), one of the more popular choices I was told, which was an ideal companion to the rich tomato base of the amatriciana. Other options start from £4 a glass, or £24 a bottle.

Informal and affordable, Zitto & Bevi offers quality classic Italian dining whilst fitting the independent and quirky Stokes Croft ethos. I look forward to returning to what is sure to become a Bristol classic.


www.facebook.com/ZittoandBevi

3 Nine Tree Hill,
Bristol
BS1 3SB
+44 117 329 7645


Photo by Benjamin Rowe


Pasta Loco

After my housemate visited this cute little restaurant just around the corner from our house, she came back raving about the delicious pasta that had reminded her of her time spent in Italy on her year abroad. I too, like most final year language students, was feeling nostalgic of my time in Bologna, so I quickly went to book a table. Not surprisingly for the restaurant awarded Best Italian in the 2016 Bristol Good Food Awards, the earliest slot was in three weeks time!

When the day arrived, Pasta Loco was everything, if not more than I had anticipated. Founded by cousins Ben and Dominic, this intimate locale is the perfect setting for dishes of quality produce with a personal touch, complete with pictures of the owners hanging on the walls to create a friendly atmosphere. In the tastefully decorated interior, with low-key lighting and a bench with cushions for a seat, I immediately felt comfortable and in good hands.

The limited seating and seasonal menu allow for excellent service and our food arrived within minutes. The dishes are satisfying if what you need is a comforting plate of pasta, and will pleasantly surprise with original combinations of flavours. For example, the linguini sausage carbonara with pork belly, pancetta and poached egg, was a delicious explosion of gustos. Not to mention, the pasta is all made in-house and the dessert…well, I’ll let you see for yourself.

One of my best experiences in Bristol!


www.pastaloco.co.uk

37A Cotham Hill
Bristol
BS6 6JY
+44 117 973 3000


Assaggio Italian Bistro

Assaggio Bistro is a personal and authentic Italian restaurant in the quieter parts of the Marais, Paris.

Finding food on a Sunday in France is like looking for alcohol in Saudi Arabia. Yet Assaggio Italian Bistro in the heart of the ‘hidden’ Marais (the bit that’s not ridiculously busy, nearer to Hotel de Ville) is one of those gems you wish you’d stumbled across sooner.

The staff is made up of a set of young and, it has to be said, flirty waiters, who are swift in presenting you with a charcoal chalkboard. Once your eyes have adjusted to the small squiggly handwriting, you have the small problem of choosing what to eat. Having been here on two occasions now, it has become my favourite Parisian Italian, because the food is simply divine.

If you don’t want to book, I’d advise coming before 8 or 8.30pm, otherwise you might be turned away or stood out waiting in the cold. The food is selected seasonally, so don’t expect to have the same thing twice if you make a return visit, which you will probably be inclined to do. Whether you go for the seasonal lasagne, a caprese salad or the garlic fettucine, you will be able to taste fresh, wholesome ingredients with complete Italian authenticity thrown in too.

What is also a welcome treat, is the sliced onion and tomato pizza crust ends given to each table as an alternative to the ‘French bread basket.’ Dessert is also something not to skimp over. Alongside the classics and the likes of vanilla pannacotta and creamy tiramasu, you may find yourself up against ricotta, cacao and lemon cannoli. This is the best thing since sliced bread, quite literally.

Italian food means Italian wine and the waiters have no qualms about giving you the eye if you opt for the French Merlot over the Italian Montepulciano, so choose wisely!

The stripped-back interior and bare brickwork are the perfect contrast to the exquisitely detailed tastes, creating an addictive Italian charm.


www.facebook.com/Assaggio-364261743584786/?fref=ts

48 Rue du Temple, 75004 Paris
+33174646155