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CLOSED: La Zucca Magica - The Magic Pumpkin

  • Vegetarian Vegetarian
    ( 22 reviews )


Contact +33-0493562527

4 bis Quai Papacino (at Le Port), Nice, France, 06300

Rustic cooking of a high standard. No menu, guest is served whatever is being cooked from the fresh vegetables available that day - usually 4 or 5 courses, dinner for around 27 Euros. Uses cheese and butter in most courses, and they do not substitute. Outside tables available. Friendly service. No credit cards. Reported closed to HappyCow. Open .

Category: Lacto, Italian, Beer/Wine

Reviews (22)

First Review by Marco

Good experience if vegetarian, impossible if vegan - Edit

I tried this restaurant when I still was vegetarian. Because there is a single menu which you discover only when served, and because they extensively use dairy products, it is impossible to eat there as a vegan. But as a vegetarian, the experience was great. The atmosphere of the restaurant is very fun with a nice decoration and smooth lights. The concept of one single menu for every one, which you discover only when served, is interesting and creates links between customers that are not at the same moment in their dinner. Food was really good from appetizers to dessert. You can see cookers at work in the kitchen which is not closed by a door or wall, that adds to the unique experience of the dinner. You can also have supplementary food when they overestimate the number of customers, which is nice. The Italian owner is friendly and funny. However, in terms of prices, this restaurant is relatively expensive (34 euros for the dinner and water).

Pros: excellent food, nice dinner concept, friendly staff

Cons: not vegan-friendly at all, expensive

2 Responses

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Nothing good to say about this place - Edit

This has got to be the worst food I have eaten in a restaurant ever, our entire party agreed. I can only describe it as tasteless and soggy. I agree with some of the other reviews, I wouldnt be surprised at all if it was all microwaved, that said I have had better microwave meals from M&S. Its especially ironic given its close proximity to the local market with so much beautiful fresh produce.

It was quite pricy given the low quality and poor service, the staff didnt seem to care that we clearly were not enjoying the food at all and left most of it. There seemed to be language barriers with the staff, which I found odd, I have never experience this kind of thing before or after in Nice or anywhere else. My opinion is its simply an attempt to stop tourists from complaining.

I dont think I can say much more other than Im shocked that some people seem to sing this places praises.

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interesting - Edit

I had been recomended La Zucca Magica as the only veg restaurant in Nice. A strange experience! I didn't realize the food was being microwaved; had I known I would have left. I would have preferred a menu or a choice and the price, of course.
The dishes were unusual and largely soupy, but I did enjoy most of them. The final course consisting mainly of tomato sauce was a little hard to manage. But I tried! The bottle of water was €6, but very nice! The absence of salad was also unfortunate. The waiters had been doing their own thing and were disconcerting to try to communicate with, given there was no menu etc. But everything seemed to work out. The very nice chef came and sat and chatted to me at closing time. She was very friendly!
I would prefer the regular type of restaurant experience; perhaps there's a niche in Nice, to be filled; but it was unusual and interesting here, at least for one time.

Pros: interesting, unusual, cosy

Cons: disconcerting, rigid, unusual

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harmony - Edit

yes a very high standard; une vraie recherche de découverte et de mariages des saveurs. Tarifs de janvier 2011 : 20€ le midi,29€ le soir. a les vaut bien, et un verre de rosé offert a  l'arrivée

Pros: excellent food, nice surrounding, quite inventine

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do not recommend! - Edit

we were excited to have a meal here after a rave review from our hotel. i'll take the blame on one thing: we did not mention that we are vegan (végetalien), however we have been accommodated at every veg resto we've been to in france, we thought we'd manage. but even before talking about food, the staff was horribly rude, despite our reservation. they stuck my family in the far back at a communal table (quick to sit down a little too close to us, two very loud women). the host rudely shrugged when we asked for another available (private) table. then came the vegan issue...he very loudly made a snarky remark at ordering time about there being no vegan possibility as everything is made with cheese and/or eggs. again, our fault for not checking in advance, but the way the staff treated us would make us NEVER recommend this place to anyone, veg or non-veg! we went to a place that our taxi driver had coincidentally mentioned to us on our drive over: chez pippo, a 3-minute walk from la zucca magica, behind the port's church. tiny, quaint, dirt cheap, and with a hard-working friendly staff. vegan bruschette plus pissaladiere and a very interesting dish called "socco", a sort of fried chickpea cake (what they're most famous for). anyway, if you're not vegan and the staff happens to be in a better mood that night, maybe you'll wanna take a chance. just a warning.

Pros: location (right on the port)

Cons: rude/brusque staff, limited menu, dark inside on a nice night

1 Response

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The Worst. - Edit

I went here for my 50th birthday meal.... what a mistake. I'm a vegetarian and enjoy vegetarian food, so I was expecting something really special based on some of the reviews I'd read. We were shown to our table by a not that friendly guy who couldn't understand why we would quite like a table which didn't involve rubbing elbows with the diners next to us. Next, there's no menu..... not only that, but no price, so it's a real surprise when the bill comes at the end! We were asked which type of wine we'd like red, white or rose. Again, no choice, no price.... what fun! Meanwhile, the "chefs" were sitting behind in the kitchen having a chat and a laugh (in more ways than one).. why? Because 80% of the food is pre-prepared and waiting to be heated. So, the food. If you like the taste of salt and cheese, and then some more salt... you'll love it. Those were honestly the only 2 flavours I got all night. The "main" course was a digusting luke warm canelone type thing which I later saw one of the waiters sprinkling with a thick layer of parmesan which he took out of a bag with his hands... yes the ones he was handling money etc with. The desert was a , literally, tastless fruit flan with watery cheap tastless ice cream (there were about 50 plates of these sitting in the kitchen). So, unlike most real restaurants where the chefs have a range of possible dishes to prepare and do them on the spot, there is one set meal... mostly pre-prepared.... great job! By this stage we just wanted to get out of there and I asked for the bill, having no clue what it would be. It was 88 Euros for 2 people. The wine turned out to cost 25 Euros.... the most we paid for house wine on our trip by a long way. So, I took out my card to begrudgingly pay. "no credit card". Huh? "no credit card". I tried to ask where this was mentioned.. was there a sign or something... was it on the menu?.. oh no... there is none. So I had to, rather embarassingly, leave the restaurant and go to a cash point... thankfully not far, to get cash. During this interaction there was no friendliness apology or understanding. On our way out another couple called us over and asked how much we had paid.... they were shocked (they were still waiting for their surprise bill) and told us how disappointed they were with the food also. I actually has a 5 vegetable pastry tart earlier in the day from a little pattiserie in Vence which cost 3 Euros and was one hundred times better that anything I had in La Zucca Magica.

Pros: None

Cons: Salt, Cheese, Price

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Reheated/Microwaved food - Edit

I chuckled reading the reviews here, and how when someone asks for a change in a dish, the staff tries to talk them out of it. LOL!!! The reason that they can't change anything, is that none of the food is prepared on premises!! It is brought in and then reheated in microwaves!!!

Now some of it isn't that bad, but why would anyone spend 40E per person for microwaved food? Marco has a good gimmick going, he's on every Nice Restaurant list imaginable, and I suppose he fools a lot of people. But this is NOT a real restaurant. No cooking equipment whatsoever!!!

If someone in Nice wants real food cooked on the premises, you'd be better served by Le Speakeasy, and for half the price!

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Two of the best meals I've ever had - Edit

I've been here twice, the second time it was my main reason for flying to Nice.

If you are a strict vegan ... don't eat there
The use of bad French is not a problem ... use of English is!!

The first time I went ... got a little stung by the price of the wine ... if you're on a budget then words along the lines of "un cerafe grand ... vin de maison... si vous plait" did the trick

Relax and just roll with it. Its a meal thats going to happen to you ... don't try and change a thing

Pros: Amazing Food

Cons: cash only, order wine carefully

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Food and romance - Edit

What a shame some people have had a bad time here!
We went to Zucca Magica on one of our first dates, three years ago and have been back for romantic meals several times since, including last Friday (23 October 2009). It is always busy and I book well in advance. We love the atmosphere and the fact that the five courses are a surprise though we do agree that it would be good to have some salad accompanying the richer courses.
The staff are friendly, welcoming and efficient.
As a veggie of nearly 40 years (ouch!) I have to say that to go to a restaurant of such high quality and not even have to think about the ingredients is a real treat! But sorry vegans, this restaurant is not for you!

Pros: Yummy food, Friendly, High class

Cons: Advance booking needed, Cash payment only, Not suitable for vegans

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Cheesy Meal - Edit

Friendly staff. Ambient - whole place is candle-lit. 5 course set meal (no menu as it is meant to be a surprise!). Costed 30 euros per person for the meal alone. Food tasted good but every course had a very high-dose of cheese in it. Unfortunately a vegan patron who came to dine had to leave as there were no vegan options.

Overall, worth the experience but make sure you go with enough cash in hand as they do not accept credit cards.

Pros: friendly staff, tasty food

Cons: limited spoken English , no credit cards

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very disappointed - Edit

I was really excited as a non-vegetarian at the time to bring a vegan friend here. I was EXTREMELY DISAPPOINTED at the unwillingness of the chef and staff to make any modifications of the plates to make them vegan-friendly. They actually responded to my request to have a cheese free dish by saying "why would you want to do that? It's good with cheese"
Personal opinion aside, you would think that they would be a bit more understanding. They said they would bring out something for her which ended up beginning an ending with a soup course. After sitting through all 5 of the following courses and not being served anything else(we did ask several times) they finally brought a dessert that she couldn't eat either (tarte tatin that included butter and ice cream!) To add insult to injury they actually charged the full price of 30 euros and wouldn't budge on that either. I find it sad that in a world that is already often difficult to navigate as a vegetarian, some of the most close-minded treatment I have ever received towards a person's choice of how to eat came at a vegetarian restaurant! While I am happy that others have enjoyed their experience here I unfortunately found this intolerant attitude off-putting enough to steer clear of the place and do not recommend it to others.
I have had a more enjoyable time at "the Speakeasy" in the city center which, to the eye, might at first seem like the lesser of the two. Even many non-vegetarian really enjoyed trying out a different experience there. Guess attitude really does count for a lot-especially when it comes to one of my favorite pleasures of eating out.

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Yum! - Edit

I had been here before, several years ago. And had the opportunity to dine there again. When I tried to make the reservation in English, they pretended not to know English. Luckily I DO speak French, and the waiters like to only speak in French, though they will speak English if forced to do so. The dinner as of August 2008 is 29 Euros (no other drink than a carafe of water). The first course was the yummy filled potato with rice and potatoes that other reviews have listed. I was actually full just on that, and was wishing I could have just paid for that for dinner. Second course was a strange steamed cabbage leaves, filled with overly cooked lentils. Almost had a diarrhea consistency. Tasty, but not pretty looking. Third course I barely made a dent in. Undercooked "Napolean" (layered vegetables) of undercooked pumpkin and red peppers. Not worth the effort to try to find a cooked portion, so I passed on it. Waiter wanted to know why I didn't devour it. Next course was excellent. A cheesy lasagna (I took off the smoked cheese off the top). A perfect portion. 5th course was the fig tart and tasteless accompanying fig ice cream. I had to quickly leave to catch the bus back to my hotel, but it took forever to pay for my bill. No credit cards accepted. Of course, as I raced out the door, I saw my bus leaving without me!! I was fortunate to get the last bus of the evening 20 minutes later. I do like this restaurant very much. Very friendly wait staff.

Pros: Small portions, Fresh food, Cozy ambience

Cons: Expensive, Does not accept credit cards, Undercooked items

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delicious food, adorable atmosphere - Edit

i had dinner at the magic pumpkin a couple of weeks ago while in nice, and it was definitely a delicious change from all the pasta we had been eating in italy. the first and probably the best course was some sort of lentil loaf dusted with parmesan cheese, with a simple and perfectly complimenting salad on the side. then came a super flavorful tomato stuffed with brown rice, vegetables and spices, then a smoked mozzarella/greens dish, then a pasta dish which unfortunately my boyfriend and i weren't thrilled about having just eaten pasta for 2 weeks straight. luckily my brother, the human vacuum cleaner, was there and finished off the pasta for us. for dessert there was a fig tart (or pie, i'm not sure) with fig ice cream. everything we had was delicious and perfectly cooked. my boyfriend felt the food was a little too easy, like something we could make at home, and whether or not that's true i still thoroughly enjoyed the meal and would eat there again anytime. the restaurant interior was also great - pumpkins everywhere!! (oh except in our food!)

the only slightly off-putting thing about the place was the waiter wouldn't tell us how much the meal was going to cost. there is no menu, everyone gets the same 5 courses which change daily i believe, so after the waiter explained this to us i inquired about the price, and he just smiled and said something, i forget what, but it didn't answer my question. it may have been a language barrier thing though, he was a great waiter. i believe the meal came out to be around 30 euros a person.

Pros: interesting food, healthy, great atmosphere

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disappointing evening - Edit

Having read all the rave reviews I was really looking forward to visiting the Magic Pumpkin. The place is nicely situated by the harbour and the staff really friendly .... but the food!!!!
The starter was nice - stuffed tomato and some very nice potatoes - but after that it was downhill.
A potato dish followed - perhaps potatoes are more exotic in France? Main impression gray and almost tasteless
Then followed a gray mess wrapped in cabbage leaves and the dessert was a fig tart with some very nice homemade icecream.
The restaurant has acces to some of the tastiest and most colurfull vegetables in the world and then they come up with this gray overcooked menu - no fresh salads, no fresh fruit, no colour - NO PASSION!!!

Pros: Nice view, friendly waiters

Cons: the food

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Best Meal of My Life! - Edit

So amazing. All of the other reviews have it 100% correct. Just magical. Five courses of pure perfection. It is not vegan- pretty much every dish included cheese or dairy of some sort. There is no 'menu'-just eat (and LOVE!) everything that come to your table! Oh, and the decor is just out of this world- pumpkins everywhere!

Pros: food, food, food

Cons: none

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Fantastic! - Edit

This place is amazing. We went here after reading the reviews and were not disappointed at all. The food was wonderful - the best meal I had in France for the whole two weeks we were away, the staff friendly and helpful, the atmosphere relaxed. You must go here if you are vegetarian and are in Nice. It is slightly pricey, but what you get for the money is well worth it. If you are vegan though this place is not for you as most dishes contained cheese.

Pros: Excellent food, Friendly staff, Good atmosphere

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Great Experience - awesome! - Edit

Being vegetarian (we are ovo-lacto) in Nice, or anywhere else in France is not easy on the outside. We have had a tough time eating well, but spur of the moment, we decided to try La Zucca Magica, as everyone had reviewed it so favourably.

We *loved* our experience there. For once, we were not looked down upon for not having mastered French yet, and the *experience* was awesome! You don't choose from a menu, you just show up and are served. You receive a 5 course dinner, followed up with a cafe that is sincerely one of the best we've had in France or Germany this trip.

The food is apparently Provencal in style (we wouldnt' know, as that style is full of meat, so we haven't dined at any restaurants in France), and it is, of course, vegetarian. NOT vegan, and you don't substitute there, so if you are vegan, keep looking.

The ambience is neat, and the food was all wonderful. The wine was also stellar, of course. A must if you are in Provence, and want to experience a fine dining, vegetarian restaurant. Reservations are a necessity, as it is tres popular - if you are trying to get in the day of your dinner, try for an earlier time (like 7:30) as locals tend to eat around 9. Bon Appetit!

Pros: Great Ambience, Yummy Veges, Great 'no choice' plated meal

Cons: not vegan, a little expensive, no choice

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A gem of Riviera cuisine: cozy and delicious! - Edit

I don't often make rave restaurant reviews, but this restaurant earned one tonight. They serve rustic French cuisine in a wholly vegetarian style. As their slogan says, they are "the restaurant to vegetables, eggs, and cheese."

There is no menu. You simply make a reservation, sit down, and enjoy the ride as the staff brings out a multi-course sensory experience from the kitchen. The candle-lit ambiance is rustic and inviting without being stuffy or pretentious. Pumpkin and squash art surrounds the ~20 tables.

On my visit tonight, I had a 4 course meal that included: delicious pesto-vegetable soup with an olive-oil broth; delicate white cheese casserole with hint of garlic and herbs; white spaghetti casserole with a side of cooked marinated artichoke; hearty black olive lasagna with tomato sauce and a hint of green olive flavor infused; moist chocolate cake with strawberry sorbet. There was something to like about every course, and my favorite was the soup.

The nice thing about this restaurant -- and what sets it apart from other popular vegetarian restaurants -- is that the cuisine is geared toward traditional French. In other words, it's just delicious "regular" food. There's no tofu, tempeh, rice cakes, soy beans, or other commonly expected vegetarian fare. In their place the chef makes use of an impressive palette of fresh market vegetables, cheeses, and spices to craft a unique and uniquely down-to-earth dining experience.

With wine and water, the bill came to 39 Euros for one person (it would have been 29 Euros without the wine and bottled water). Although it seems on the pricey side, I think the cost is within reason for other restaurants in the Old Nice Port area. Staff are friendly and will speak some English, but you should come prepared to attempt a little French as they seem reluctant to dive into English on-command.

I would absolutely recommend this restaurant. It's not only great vegetarian food, it's just plain good food. Non-vegetarians will probably walk away just as happy as vegetarians.

My reservation was for 7:00 PM and the meal took almost 2 hours. This is the sort of establishment where you come and let the meal unwind at the chef's pace. Leave any Hurried American attitudes back at the hotel. :-)

I suspect that if I had made my reservation a little later -- say, 8:00 PM -- that the experience might have gone a bit more quickly as I think the chef was still finishing preparations of the evening's course when I showed up at 7:00.

Pros: Excellent good, Cozy ambiance, Friendly staff

Cons: Long meal duration, Limited parking, High price

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Fantastic - it really is magic - Edit

We read about this restaurant in the Time Out Guide and decided to try it. It's quite a walk from the train station but well worth it. Marco is literally larger than life, the restaurant is so cosy (particularly as their beloved dog Spock is there to welcome you) and the food is excellent.
I've been twice now and both meals were really good. The pumpkin sandwich with truffle oil appeared as the second course in both five course meals and it's very good.
I can't recommend this place enough - if you're in Nice and want a truly unique dining experience make sure you pay them a visit.

Pros: unique atmosphere, excellent food

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No choice - but the best! - Edit

La Zucca offering no choice but a single menu made us a little apprehensive, but we took the risk, and it sure was rewarded. It was a delightful 5-course meal. They must have a great cook: the dishes looked good, tasted even better and were very nourishing. As far as we could tell it was completely vegetarian although definitely not vegan. Although the whole restaurant is decorated with the pumpkin theme, there were none in our menu (maybe next time?).

Pros: great cooking

Cons: no choice in menu

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