Zizzi | The Mailbox Birmingham

When I started writing my blog, I decided from the start that my reviews should always be completely honest.  If something hadn’t been great, then that’s what I must say, but always in a constructive way. I never want to use my blog as a platform for launching abuse at a restaurant, or find myself going out of my way to tell the world about a bad restaurant. Hey, if it’s THAT bad, I probably wont even write about it: I want my blog to be filled with food that I love and places that I want to recommend to people.

But Zizzi.  Hmm.

I have a huge love for Zizzi. The Harborne branch was the setting for mine and my now husband’s first date, and my 21st birthday. I’ve had equally lovely lunches at the one in Solihull with my sister, Alex.  I have, in fact, even visited this Mailbox branch before, for lunch with my husband after spending our wedding night in Malmaison, as a nod to our first date.  Though that was nearly six years ago now.

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Alex and I were in Birmingham quite late on Wednesday night. We had just left the Gin Masterclass at The Bureau, and were on the hunt for food. We headed to the Mailbox, but it was after 10pm, and most places had stopped serving, except Zizzi.

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Half way through the Gin Masterclass, Alex had announced that she just really wanted a mojito, so as soon as we were seated, that’s what she ordered. I had a large (obviously) glass of Trebbiano, a beautiful white wine, which I’ve had before, and love. Alex’s mojito though. Oh my god. It was awful. I mean, truly terrible.  It was just sugary, artificial tasting, and overpowered with lime. I know Zizzi is an Italian restaurant and not a cocktail bar, but if you’re going to put mojitos on the menu, then they should be half decent.  We unfortunately had to ask to change it for something else, but it turns out ALL of their cocktails are made using premixed bases, so she opted for a lemonade.

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To start, we both ordered the Tomato Bruschetta.  Looked lovely, and drizzled with balsamic vinegar, I was sold. Until we ate it.  Some of the tomatoes were warm, but most were just lukewarm and then fridge cold in the middle. Not great. I ate mine because I was so hungry, but Alex left most of her tomatoes.  I know, I know, we should have said something, but we’d felt bad enough having to send back the mojito.

There’s ten years between me and my younger sister, so she must  have only been about eleven when she first ate at Zizzi for my 21st birthday.  Ever since then, she’s ALWAYS ordered the Strozzapretti Pesto Rosso.  It is beautiful though. Spicy chicken with pasta in a creamy sauce of red pesto and crème fraiche with spring onions. Yum.

It arrived and well, looked nothing like we expected.  There was no creamy sauce. The pasta looked almost bare, with a puddle of orange-coloured, watery sauce in the bottom of the bowl.  Alex immediately queried it, but she was told that she must be confusing it with a similar dish of theirs, the  Casareccia Pollo Piccante. She said she wasn’t, but they insisted.  We both tasted it, and it wasn’t even nice, never mind being nothing like strozzapretti should be.  She sent it back, having to explain to the waiter what it normally tastes like. He was half laughing.

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Anyway, another bowl of pasta arrived and it was perfect, and delicious.

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I had the Rustica Sybarita: Calabrese sausage, spicy Nduja sausage, garlic buttered potatoes, roast peppers, Fior di Latte mozzarella & Grana Padano.  It was HUGE, but really good. And what was even better, was the cutlery being sharp enough to cut it! There’s nothing worse than being served a pizza with a blunt knife (similar Italian chain restaurant, you know who you are!)

I almost don’t want to talk about the décor after the bashing I’ve already given them, but seriously, compared to other Zizzi restaurants, this one is a bit naff.  Especially in the setting of the Mailbox, home of Harvey Nichols and luxury. I’ll leave it there. I’ll insert some pictures and you can make up your own mind.

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It’s fair to say that I wont be rushing back to this restaurant anytime soon, however my love for Zizzi in Harborne still stands.  Consistency people, we need consistency.

I think it might be obvious that we were not invited to review this restaurant, and we paid for all of our own food and drinks. All opinions are very honest.

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