Sunday, April 13, 2014

Trendy Italian Cuisine Zurich-Style: Cucina Ristorante

Zurich Altstadt 
We’d been strolling Zurich’s trendy Kreis 5 neighborhood, along Heinrich-Strasse (our destination was eventually the Abaton Movie Theatre), when my nose—and practiced eye—caught sight of Ristorante Cucina, situated on a quiet corner of Luisenstrasse and Heinrich-Strasse. We weren’t in a hurry and my tiny tummy decided to “purr” loudly. Nina smiled and nodded. Within a moment she was climbing the small staircase and opened the great wooden door. Cucina’s stylish Mediterranean interior of crimson walls and leather chairs invited us in and we found a table by the window facing Heinrich-Strasse.

Our waiter, Johir, who comes from Bangladesh and has lived in Zurich for eight years, took our order and served us bread and olives. We selected the Cami 2006 Amarone red wine dela Valpolicella, a robust full-bodied and aromatic wine that just fills your mouth with elegant pleasure and lingers with fine scents of dried fruit. 

The elegant roundness and sense of adventure of Amarone makes it one of Italy’s wine treasures and a great choice to go with a flavorful Italian meal. We’d first ordered a glass each, but after a sip, Nina looked at me and we both nodded: we needed a bottle.

The combination of dark and green olives with artichoke hearts and exquisite wine sent us both spinning into a sensual paradise.  According to Johi, the olives are olive oil-cured with fine herbs and presented with artichokes. The green olives were likely French provencal (imported from France); recognized for their excellent association with bread and cheese. The dark olives were likely the petite French niçoise olives that have a sweet nutty flavor, and are known for their delicious pairing with bread and wine (fancy that! Just what we had). They may also have been Italian ligura, gaeta, or lugano olives. Either way, they were exquisite and we had to order more of them too. 
Nina poured some Fiorucci aceto balsamico di Modena into a golden pool of extra virgin olive oil (Cubrol oro) and let the bread soak up the delectable mixture. As she gazed up in distracted euphoria I stole several more olives.

The award-winning restaurant (open since 1994) is best known for its brick-oven pizza, lovingly Cucina as the best pizza place in Zurich, and possibly all of Switzerland!
Toulouse gets a tour with Saritas
made to perfection by Herr Pizza Meister Saritas and his team of pizza makers. It’s no surprise that the Zurich Radio 24 cited

Saritas, who bakes with gusto and penache, invited me to oversee his team make their pizzas. Oval individual-sized pies are imaginatively created on a table by the oven then baked in the Cucina wood-burning stove and served on wooden cutting boards. 

The imaginative variety of pizzas is immense. The choice occupies at least two pages on their menu that includes antipasti, zuppe (soup), salatoni (salad), hausgemachte or pasta fatta in casa (house-made pasta), risotto, carne (meat dishes) and pesci (fish dishes). Their pizzas al forno a legno (from wood burning stove) include a delectable variety of over thirty choices (that I counted on the menu) such as the Genovese (tomato mozzarella, ricotta and pesto), the Carnivora (tomato mozzarella, herb butter and sliced veal) and the Vichinga (tomato mozzarella with salmon and rocket lettuce). 

Intriguing ingredient selections include truffle oil, reisencrevettenschwanze, capers, raw rindshuft, rucola, rocket and eggplant. 

Of course, being who we are, we didn’t order pizza. Instead, we both ordered something from their hausgemachte pasta. Nina ordered Tagliatelle (noodles) ai funghi porcini (noodles with mushrooms in a Weisenwein sauce—oohlala! It was fun and zesty with a lingering sweetness). I chose the Cannelloni alla fiorentina (Cannelloni filled with ricotta and spinach with mozzarella baked on top in a creamy rose sauce—“Perfeto!” or as they say in Switzerland, “Ausgezeichnet!”). This “comfort food” pinged all the sensual pleasure sites in my brain and sent my whiskers curling with the elegantly married tastes of cheese, spinach, pasta and sauce. We shared and congratulated one another on our “ausgezeichnet” choices. In both cases, the meals paired exquisitely with the wine and the olives.

We had no room for desert (having filled on second-helpings of antipasti). I was stuffed! (Ok... enough of the jokes, already!) But the ristorante serves some wonderful deserts according to the menu and I'll be back. 

Meals are advertized as going on average of 55 CHF when you count all the dishes and wine. Main dishes average 21.50 to 24.50 CHF.

Contact information:
Luisenstrase 40, 8005 Zürich
Telefon: 044 271 37 40
MO bis FR: 11h30-14h00 / 17h30-23h00
SA & SO: 11h30-23h00

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