The other is this new arrival on Holloway Road, closer to Highbury & Islington than to Archway; almost opposite the North London Buddhist Centre, in fact.
I’d read a few rave reviews at the end of the last year: expecting a roadblock, even on a Saturday lunchtime, my partner and I made sure we were through the doors by 1230pm. It worked: we bagged the last two seats in the house, the smallish room already alive with great groups of families feasting, local couples on and tiny kids teetering on stools, legs held by fathers pointing out the wood-fired oven. By 1pm, we watched as queues snaked out the door.
The point of difference for Zia Lucia – which the owner claims is the friendly name for an auntie in some parts of the world – is the slow, 48-hour fermented doughs: you choose from wholemeal, gluten-free, traditional (‘unconventionally light’, reads the description) and vegetable charcoal, with an ‘evocative flavour, dramatic look, digestive gas-absorbing capacities’. If you do depart from the traditional, however, you’re slapped with a £1.50 surcharge, which pushes the pizzas up to nearly £12 each.In an, erm, nod to ‘clean’ eating, we tried the (ubiquitous) gluten-free option. Hoping it would be crispy and delicate, it was a little underwhelming: in retrospect I’d go for simply a traditional base. The topping was delicious, however: to a basic margherita we added bold bespoke toppings of anchovies, olives and rocket.
Meanwhile the Andrea Pirlo (named after the footballer, non-sports fans) combines mozzarella, gorgonzola and apple – a nice riff on the old British picnic staple – with truffle and olive sauce. Here the choice of base made a positive difference: the charcoal dough not only looked dramatic, but its smoky edge really suited the creamy, sharp and earthy toppings.
A decent house red is £18, which makes the end result about £40 for two people.
Not bad, then, for some of the capital’s best wood-fired. Now, about those queues.