It might be a little early to review the new Zia Lucia that opened last Saturday night in Brook Green. But I can’t help myself! My main takeaway? You can have absolutely delicious, mouth-wateringly good pizza without having that heavy, bloated feeling afterwards. Guilt-free and yummy. Their secret is below.I know what you are thinking. Yes, the pizzas are that good.
Zia Lucia is the the second hatchling from a young group of vibrant, energetic Italians hailing from Venice who have known each other for years. Zia means “aunt” and Auntie Lucia’s love of food and community inspired Gianluca and Claudio to open the first Zia Lucia in Islington last year. An instant success, they decided to try their hand in West London and last Saturday night opened Zia Lucia on Blythe Road in Brook Green (Hammersmith).
The queue outside the new Zia Lucia on Blythe Road in Brook Green last Saturday night. I worried that the upmarket, more residential Brook Green would be a tougher crowd to break into — and please — but based on the queue outside and the happy customers inside, there was no need.
The wood-burning ovens — respectively named Dante and Wally — are a big hit, delivering true Italian crusts. Crispy and crunchy on the outside, doughy on the inside with melted toppings in such a wide range that it takes a while to decide what to order: artichokes, rocket, honey, figs, traditional basil and mozzarella, prosciutto, sun-dried tomatoes, the list is endless. I don’t know where they source their goods, but while eating my pepperoni pizza with black olives and mozzarella, I was transported to Italy, where everything tastes better.
As someone whose palate and diet has changed over the years, I can no longer eat a lot of bread, particularly white bread. As much as I love it, my gut has become more sensitive and my daily routine means little or no starch.
What Zia Lucia does with its crust is sensational. They offer 4 to 5 different crusts to choose from: traditional, wholemeal, charcoal vegetarian, gluten-free, and on the Islington menu (and if you ask at the Brook Green restaurant), a moringa green dough.
What is moringa, you ask? At our table of six, it seems all the under 35s knew about it. The seeds, pods and leaves come from the moringa oleifera tree, or “the drumstick tree” found in Nepal and India, that Wellness Mama explains: “is touted as a superfood since it is rich in nutrients, antioxidants and other beneficial compounds”.
This wide variety of dough is enticing to even the most allergic of eaters. At our table, we had collectively one of everything except the gluten-free. My charcoal vegetarian crust was absolutely delicious. Tasty with that charcoal edge to it, and far from bland. The tomato sauce and mozzarella were perfectly proportioned and all of our toppings were fresh and sizzling when arriving at the table.
But most important, after eating nearly all the pizza, I woke up the next morning feeling…fine! Not bloated, not heavy, not that weighed down feeling you get after eating that much dough. It was a revelation for me that I could enjoy a night out without the guilt. My husband enjoyed the wholemeal dough and our daughter had the traditional — all 2 thumbs up. Another dinner guest had the moringa dough as he’s a huge fan of the Islington branch.
The decor is light and simple, lots of exposed brick, whitewashed walls and simple wooden tables. But the ambience is warm and cozy, and they fit in quite a few covers both upstairs and down in this small townhouse space.
The antipasti starters were very good, although I’d love to see a little more variety, but again, very fresh ingredients and very healthy. There was a good variety of beers, both local and abroad, and they offer a “spritz”, an Italian drink to start your night, of aperol and prosecco. Not my cup of tea, but they were so proud and excited to share this Italian tradition I felt bad for not trying one!
Like all places that just open, they have to iron out some of the kinks (I think they were working through the night prior to opening, making last minute adjustments), but with the very decent price tag, divine food — particularly on a cold winter’s night — and the warm, bubbly atmosphere, I’m sure this place will be a hit. With all the various private and public schools nearby, as well as the residential homes and many businesses, this will be a regular local hangout.
Bravo to Claudio, Gianluca, Priscilla and all the team at Zia Lucia. Looking forward to going back for a second and third and fourth visit. The neighbourhood just got that much better!