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Falling in Love with Primavera, Knutsford.

There were two problems with the Knutsford Zizzi:  1) It was stuck at the end of King Street like Billy no-mates. 2) It was big on space and short on atmosphere.
The result?  You only went there if you had to.

However, the observant among you will have spotted the recent changes brought about by manager -turned owner, Sayed Khalifa. His 40
years in the industry and first hand-knowledge of the old Zizzi (4 years in charge) have enabled him to give the place a new lease of life.

Investing his own money, he has broken free from corporate shackles and brought forth Primavera. His biggest challenge was to turn Zizzi’s inherent problems to his advantage.

The newly blossomed Primavera restaurant does indeed occupy the same position at the end of King Street but the addition of three pavement tables gives it a new identity. Those tables enjoy the light and space denied to other, more central eateries, and have become the first stop for browsers, shoppers and sight-seers and anyone en route from Tatton Park or in need of rest and an Illy coffee.  
The second problem (size vs. atmosphere) was perhaps less easily solved. Sayed started by stripping away the red Zizzi uniform and replacing it with fresh, welcoming white. Add the new name, the outside tables and... so far so much the same? I went along to find out.

The changes are subtle. The authentic wood-fired oven still looks enticing (and serves up pizza and calzone unrivalled for flavour and texture). The dining space is better filled, the lighting softer. The place feels warmer and more intimate. I was there early one Thursday and it was already busy - and the real key to atmosphere is the buzz of happy diners.

Sayed has cleverly kept those things from the old Zizzi that worked – the open kitchen, the un-pretentious food at reasonable prices and the guarantee of fresh, authentic Italian dishes, but added more individual touches. He has extended the grill menu to include a range of quality local meats and daily specials. There’s live music most nights – and I must say I enjoyed being serenaded as I ate.

He’s employed new staff – very attentive and lots of them. (We were asked four times if our food was OK... watched over by their boss they clearly want to get it right.) And he has lots of marketing ideas up his sleeve – starting with a two for one offer – intended to reward regular customers and attract new ones.

The improvements work. My risotto was creamy and moist and full of lovely fresh veg. The pizzas were (still) the best in town and I was happy with the bill. I’m almost tempted to say Sayed knows his (spring) onions. He is certainly adding to the tally of quality independents in town. And I have a feeling that the far end of King Street is fast becoming the place to be.

Girl About Town

Primavera Ristorante & Bar
125A King Street
Cheshire WA16 6EH

01565 633824 to reserve your table. Takeaway pizza also available.

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