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Pure magic

Pure magic

29 Jan 2013 BY Dominique's Villas

For vegetarians, eating out in France often proves difficult unless you are content with pasta or pizza. Far more Britons are vegetarians, and properly catered for in supermarkets, delicatessens and restaurants, which is why a restaurant in France dedicated to vegetarian food is a rare pleasure.

'La Zucca Magica' ('The Magic Pumpkin'), on the quai Pacino in the port of Nice, declares its offerings even before you enter its doors. The awning outside proclaims that it is a “restaurant au légumes, oeufs et fromages" (“vegetables, eggs and cheeses restaurant”). Even if you miss this, you are left in no doubt by the décor. Everything at 'La Zucca Magica' evolves around gourds, hollowed out, largely inedible fruits. They appear in paintings, posters and photographs, are superimposed on mirrors, and made into bowls, masks, puppets and toys.

Yet Zucca's owners, Marco Folicaldi and Rossella Bolmida, Italians from Turin and Rome respectively, were once passionate carnivores. Folicaldi recalls an adolescence in which he ate "meat, meat and more meat".  But when they became convinced vegetarians, hating the idea of eating a slice of "nice little pig", they decided to open a restaurant to cater for those with similar tastes.

The unsurpassed variety and quality of vegetables in southern France led the couple to set up in Nice, where their clientele are treated to many imaginative dishes. Try, for example, their risotto-and mozzarella-stuffed chard leaves, a sandwich of thin pastry, soft cheese and pitted taggiasca olives, artichoke lasagna, and a huge range of stuffed vegetables, Provence style. Constantly changing five-course menus and large portions ensure that no vegetarian ever leaves unsatisfied.

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