Zzeta – Soul Fired Pizza 7.6/10
VALUE FOR MONEY: 7.5/10
VENUE & ATMOSPHERE: 7.5/10
Note: No pork served on the menu. Alcohol is served here. Verbal assurance all meat is halal, with a mixture of suppliers used, on of which is Najma Foods. We were invited to review this restaurant.
Zzeta has only been open for 3 months, and is situated in the heart of Canning Town, right outside the former Rathbone Market. It’s unique name, Zzeta, is derived from the word ‘pizzetta’ which Rob Dewan (owner and founder of Zzetta) later informed me roughly translates to a small pizza, the idea being that people would order three little pizzettas in a restaurant to sample different flavours instead of one.
What I loved about Zzeta was the restaurant’s focus on community and embracing the surrounding area of its location. The restaurant incorporates the history of Rathbone Market which has been well known in the community through the years. Rob Dewan collaborated closely with experienced chefs to develop the menu, whilst ensuring that all ingredients used to create these dishes were fresh, high-quality, locally sourced products. For example, the cheeses used are sourced from Romford and only have a shelf life of 3 days, which not only avoid waste, but ensures that the cheese is fresher and has more flavour. The yeast itself is also produced in the restaurant which is a testament to how fresh everything is.
We arrived on a buzzing Friday evening, and were very lucky that we didn’t have to wait for a table as we had already booked on invite. Straight away the first thing that caught my eye was the open kitchen, specifically, the rather large fired up Italian stone oven. Visually, I couldn’t see any Muslims, which seemed strange given that the menu was entirely halal, even down to the bacon, chorizo, and pepperoni (given though that alcohol is also served).
Zzetta’s theme around Rathbone Market is reflected in its interior design, which immediately caught my eye. The tables are shaped to mimic market crates, and the walls are painted to resemble market tents. I also loved the wooden speech bubbles hanging from the ceiling, which included quotes, stories, feelings and memories that members of the local community have of Rathbone Market.
Now onto the food! For drinks we ordered some bottles of Italian lemonade, which was probably the best drink I’ve had in a long time with my meal. For starters we opted for the blue cheese salad and Montanara, which consisted of Deep fired Dough topped with mozzarella, parmesan, and basil, and served with a side of tomato Sauce. Created in Naples, Italy, the Montanara is a lightly fried pizza (and famous Italian street food) that is smoky and deeply satisfying. The texture, as described by ShakerFries, was not dissimilar to a fried puri (Indian fried bread)! The flavours from the tomato sauce were fresh and herby, and complimented the cheesy crisp bread well. The blue cheese salad was equally pleasing to palate, and included lettuce, cherry tomatoes, Kalamata olives, blue cheese, red grapes, and a side of balsamic dressing. As ShakerFries is ‘allergic’ to anything green, I enjoyed this all by myself!
For mains, I couldn’t wait to get stuck into a freshly baked, 12 inch pizza! Despite being halal there were a lot of vegetarian options on the menu, and I was torn on what to order. In the end I went for the beef brasola (fior di latte mozzarella, porcini mushrooms, portobello mushrooms, and bresaola), and ShakerFries opted for the ‘La festa de carne’ which included mozzarella, spicy chicken, cured salami, spicy beef, and lamb sausage. Bresaola is air-dried, salted beef from the back of the calf, that has been aged two or three months and is lean and tender, with a sweet, musty smell. I was intrigued to try this specifically as you can never get a halal version of this, and the brasola I tried was made and dried in-house!
As a sufferer of an autoimmune diseases ulcerative colitis, I decided to (for the first time in my life) order a gluten free base. I nearly always bloat after eating pizzas and pastas (but usually take the hit and eat it anyway), which usually leaves me feeling not great after an Italian meal, so decided to see how I would feel after this ‘gluten free’ meal. One thing worth mentioning that distinguishes Zzetta from other pizza chains (other than their gluten free option), is the fact they only use 48 hour slow-risen vegan sourdough as a base for toppings. This results in thin and crispy pizzas which leave you feeling comfortable, satisfied, and rather than abnormally stuffed and uncomfortable!
I loved my pizza! The size was perfect, the brasola added a smokey hint to the pizza, and there was a generous portion of fresh mushrooms and cheese as well. The base was crisp and baked to perfection. ShakerFries demolished his meat feast which I supposed is a testament to how much he enjoyed his! I didn’t taste it as I was far too engrossed in mine!
I can’t lie, the wait for the starters and mains were incredibly long, BUT they were incredibly apologetic, and I could see they were busy. The main reason for the long waiting times was that their electronic order system went down, and so there was a mad scramble to manually take and deliver orders. Furthermore, I do believe it is always fair to give newly opened restaurants some leeway when it comes to certain aspects of your experience, and since Zzeta has only been opened 3 months, it’s fair to say they are still in the process of ironing out these kinds of teething problems. Despite being busy, Rob still took some time when we had finished our meal to tell us a bit about the restaurant.
Overall, our experience was a really pleasant one. It is certainly refreshing to find authentic, halal Italian food right at your doorstep, and I welcomed the non-sluggish feeling after. In my opinion Zzeta has something really great to offer, and certainly fills a gap in the market. I only wish more places like this opened in the future. It makes a change from burger joints!
Zzeta – Soul Fired Pizza
Address: Rathbone Market, 110 Barking Rd, London E16 1EN
Phone: 020 3904 7074