‘Head for Meanwood’ is not a phrase you often hear in restaurant discussion, but it is well worth journeying beyond the city centre for Zucco, an airy Italian caf loosely based on Soho’s Polpo where Michael Leggiero got his inspiration for this local trattoria.
To recap: Michael Leggiero and his brother Rosario are Leeds born and bred to Italian parents. For 17 years Rosario was head chef at the living legend that is Salvo’s. Michael was general manager and worked front of house for Polpo, both with an ambition to have their own place. Zucco opened a couple of years ago, broke sharply away from the pizza and pasta routine you might expect in the suburb, but a relaxed place serving small plates of delicious southern Italian food like octopus and pickled vegetables on carta di musica (music paper bread), orechiette with broccoli, salami and a spicy nduja, squid ink pasta with soft shell crab, spaghetti with razor clams and deep fried zucchini and mint. So good in fact you are in danger of over-ordering and at £3-£8 a plate the cost can rack up even if you skip the affogato, tiramisu, sorbets or ice cream. Good wine, too.