There are Italian restaurants that offer up a romanticized, fantasy version of the homeland—think overabundant grapevines, straw bottles of Chianti, and red-and-white-chequered tablecloths—and restaurants that could actually slot seamlessly into any given street in Naples or Rome. Zia Lucia falls squarely into the latter category. The harried and frenetic pizzeria is, during our visit, presided over by an Italian-speaking matriarch, who gruffly (but warmly) seats us amidst the dining room’s throngs. The inside is relatively bare (a poster of Elvis Presley is one noticeable piece of decor), but it feels all the more genuine for it.
Waiters bolt past; we manage to flag one down long enough to order. The starters may not be revelatory, but they do capture what’s so pleasurable about simply-done, straightforward Italian ingredients, from the white lobe of burrata that spills out creamy curds to the oven-hot focaccia (really just pizza dough, but when drizzled in olive oil and sprinkled in sea salt, who could complain?). The pizzas are where Zia Lucia flexes its creative muscles, from the range of bases (including a coal-black charcoal dough) to the toppings (we loved the Arianna, which featured taleggio goat cheese and truffle honey). All are fermented for 48 hours and slung in a white-hot oven just long enough to bubble up and char, and all are worth your time. Note that Zia Lucia has expanded from its Islington original and now operates locations in Boxpark Wembley and Brook Green, so its pizza is easier to get ahold of than ever.