Zia Lucia is your new favourite non-family member. The name is Italian for ‘Aunt Lucy’, and the kindly looking lady smiling out at you from its logo was the inspiration for this lovely neighbourhood pizzeria, opened by Highbury locals Gianluca and Claudio in June 2016. While its branding, flavours and atmosphere are bang on-point, the place still pulses with the sort of old-fashioned charm you only find at an Italian family feast.
Different doughs give the menu its USP: there’s a deliciously nutty wholemeal option, an impressive-looking vegetable charcoal one that’s said to ease digestion, and a gluten-free crust that’s been getting rave reviews from those avoiding nature’s elastic. They’re interesting, but they don’t exactly transform the flavour, and at £1.50 extra per pizza, quietly push the bill away from bargain status. Toppings are mostly the more interesting classics – ’nduja, aubergines, broccoli and speck ham (not all at once) – but the pizza chef has added a couple of haute Italian options: the Arianna with mozzarella, sausage, taleggio, pecorino and truffle honey could almost be Caesar’s breakfast buffet.
It doesn’t matter what you end up ordering, because every last ingredient is of the utmost quality. Even the flour is the most expensive on the market. This attention to flavour is particularly apparent in the ‘Tagliere’, a sharing board of meats and cheeses that are all cut to order and marvellously fresh. The mortadella is sourced from Bologna, and is the best I’ve ever tried. And I’ve lived in Bologna. Of equally high standard is the service, which was fast and friendly even on a buzzing Friday night when we’d queued for half an hour on the pavement outside. So Aunt Lucy may not share your genes, but there’s no doubt that you'll warm to her – this lovable restaurant is already brightening up the N7 food family.