Really love Lucius a real hidden gem in Crystal Palace for authentic Italian food. Fresh ingredients, fresh pasta, fresh bread, fresh pizza etc etc. Stands out above all the nasty Italian chains which are so common these days. The menu is simple but there is enough there to keep us coming back and always a fantastic selection of daily specials. Highly recommend having the fresh bread which is cooked in the kitchen on the day, and you can tell instantly. The Gnocchi is also fantastic and probably the best I have tasted in the UK, the pizzas are also excellent with a great selection of fresh toppings. The service is friendly and the staff are very welcoming. The best thing about the place is that it's so cheap, 3 courses and a glass of wine for about £20-25 is a steal considering the quality of food on offer. We have been several times and it never disappoints. Will be back again soon.
© Celia Topping
Time Out rating:
Time Out says
Posted: Fri Sep 16 2011
Lucius is the kind of friendly neighbourhood Italian restaurant that everyone should – but sadly doesn’t – have around the corner. With two Italian chefs in the kitchen, the food majors in simplicity and quality ingredients.
Pizzas were a fabulous balance of crisp, light dough and generous toppings of the classic varieties, but with a twist – my grilled aubergine and courgette featured welcome drifts of freshly steamed spinach.
But it was a pasta dish that stood out: the texture of the gnocchi was as good as any we’ve tried outside of Italy. Pert on the tongue but squishy on impact – not the pappy mush we’re used to in the UK – and it was a perfect foil for its subtle blue cheese and spinach sauce.
Along with pizza or pasta, there are regular specials. A rib-eye steak with spaghetti was divine – though we’d have happily paid more to have a bigger slice of steak.
The fresh spaghetti (from a specialist supplier, like the gnocchi) was also notably good, coated in anchovy, garlic and tomato sauce.
For dessert, the tiramisu was a heavenly cloud of cocoa-dusted whipped egg and mascarpone topping, on a delicious vanilla sponge base that hadn’t been swamped in liquor in the British way (as the name suggests, it’s supposed to be a ‘pick me up’, not a ‘knock you out’).
Affogato – one ball each of high-quality vanilla and chocolate ice cream doused in hot espresso – was also spot on.
Lucius was opened late this summer by Mel Nugent, who formerly ran the premises here as a sibling to his still thriving Blue Mountain Cafés in East Dulwich and Sydenham.
Local friends tell me there are lots of great Italian restaurants in this immediate area, but those I’ve tried serve up the usual cheap pastiche of Italian food.
Lucius, in contrast, feels like a step in the right direction. But it still needs the courage to focus on purely Italian fare – why put halloumi or chorizo on an Italian antipasti platter?
More Italian wines on the short and budget-friendly wine list would also be a smart move, along with more atmospheric lighting in this otherwise friendly venue with its flashes of boudoir glam. There’s also a cosy lounge-bar area below with a tiny patio: perfect for intimate parties.
Lucius 128 Gipsy Hill
- Venue phone:
020 8761 8909
- Opening hours:
Open 5-10pm Mon-Fri; noon-10pm Sat, Sun
Tube: Gipsy Hill rail
Dinner for two with drinks and service: around £60
- 128 Gipsy Hill
- 020 8761 8909
- 128 Gipsy Hill
Average User Rating
4.2 / 5
- 5 star:2
- 4 star:2
- 3 star:1
- 2 star:0
- 1 star:0
Very good food at reasonable prices. Crystal Palace's Italian restaurants leave a lot to be desired these days so very happy that Lucius & Mediterranea are taking up the mantle
Really good food. Nice place for after dinner drinks downstairs and just round the corner. Excellent!
Went with a large group and had a bit of a long wait to be served but the staff we friendly and the food, when it arrived, pretty good. This place is just what you want in a neibourhood restaurant.
Went to Lucius last night. The pasta was DIVINE with creamy chilled slices of mozzarella on top and perfectly seasoned. Made me realise how often we put up with so-so ingredients - and pay a lot more for mediocrity. Locals are blessed indeed. Great little garden too.