La Zucca is a tiny restaurant with some of the most imaginative cooking to be found in Venice. There’s a pleasant inside room and a few outside tables at the foot of the bridge, from where you can watch the passing traffic on foot, in gondole or in more prosaic boats, while you enjoy the treats of the menu.
There’s a small range of fish and meat dishes but La Zucca’s real glory is in the innovative way it treats vegetables. And not only are they wonderful to eat, they are fantastic value. Flan di Zucca con ricotta stagionata (€7.50) was a feather-light, creamy pumpkin flan that melted in the mouth, covered with flakes of matured ricotta. Sfornato di patate, funghi e radicchio – from the part of the menu that could be additional vegetable dishes, but make equally good starters – was a steal at €4.50: a delicious mound of vegetables with flavours that blended perfectly.
Meat main courses (€11 – €13.50) include some interesting juxtapositions. Costacine d’Agnello arroste teamed exceptionally tender baby lamb chops with tzatziki, an inspired combination. Pork with ginger and rice also sounded good, and there is even capretto – young goat – roasted in white wine. Verdure padellate allo zenzero, an al dente mixture of vegetables pan-fried with ginger (€4) as slightly too delicate a flavour for a main course but would probably be perfect as an accompaniment.
Puddings (€4) are also a mixture of the familiar and the temptingly unusual. I would have tried Crema di Ricotta al Grand Marnier con fragole, but was seduced by the reports of the chocolate mousse with Baicoli, a traditional Venetian biscuit which perfectly sets off the richness of the mousse. Other tempting options include yoghurt ice cream with mirtilli(bilberries).
House wine is delicious at €7.30 per litre and there is also a short but good wine list covering the whole of Italy. Service is relaxed, friendly and efficient, completing the picture for a great meal and great value.