Stuzzi, Leeds: traditional meets modern in tapas-style Italian restaurant
This restaurant is a must for Italian foodies on the hunt for something different to traditional pasta and pizza-heavy menus.
Walking up the stairs to the first-floor premises of Stuzzi, I was immediately struck by the restaurant’s tasteful combination of old-fashioned glamour and modern decor in its elegant fittings, tiling and airy, high-beamed ceiling - decor firmly in step with the inventive food menu on offer.
Service was professional and quick, with the waiter not only attentive to our table but very knowledgeable about the menu, talking us through each food option, giving recommendations on how many plates to order, and offering to take us through the extensive wine list.
The menu is seasonal, meaning it can change from week to week. Having called ahead to check, there were fortunately enough vegetarian options available for our party, though with a cheese-heavy menu this is unlikely to be a good spot for vegans.
“Stuzzi” is short for “Stuzzichini”, which in Italian refers to little plates of food served in bars to be eaten in between drinks, much like tapas. The “Stuzzi” make up the menu at the restaurant, offering novel and enticing options ranging from Tuscan salad to arancini and stuffed pork belly.
Each plate was a little more expensive than you’d expect in a Spanish tapas restaurant, ranging from £7.50 to £16 for a steak dish, but the portion sizes are very generous and surprisingly filling.
Between the two of us, we ordered three plates: deep fried aubergine slices with goat's curd, parsley casarecce with artichokes and the house made ricotta with courgette, peas and broad beans.
Each dish was elegantly presented and full of rich flavour, with the melt-in-the-mouth aubergine a particular highlight and the ricotta pleasingly fresh.
Alongside the food we ordered a cheap bottle of white wine - £23.50 - which was a smooth and refreshing accompaniment to the small plates.
Though pretty full by the end of our savoury plates, we were enticed by the dessert menu and ordered the platter selection of desserts which included meringue, sweet biscuits, gelato and semifreddo. Each element was delicious, though at £14.95 the platter was a little on the pricey side for the portion size.
Coming in at just under £70 for the meal in total, the quality and novelty of the menu, plus the atmosphere and excellent service made the price feel well worth the overall experience.
Address: 7 Merrion St, Leeds LS1 6PQ
Telephone: 0113 245 5323
Opening hours: Weds-Sat 12-10pm, Sun 12-8pm