In another life I would have been born into an Italian family of restaurateurs. As a child we had family friends who ran a trattoria called 13 1/2 in Beauchamp Place behind Harrods and the Papa semi-adopted me and inducted me into the arcane mysteries of twirling pasta efficiently on a fork, eating gelato and foraging for tiny wild fragole (strawberries). These are memories that have never left me and so when asked to review family-run Lamezia Fresh Pasta & Pizza Restaurant in bustling Holloway Road, I approached it with a sense of benign benevolence.
The Calabrian Dell’aquila family are celebrating their 10-year anniversary at Lamezia with a makeover, some exciting new menu items and the daughter of the family, the charming Maria Dell’aquila, taking over the running of the restaurant. The family take pride in their Calabrian roots bringing in authentic ingredients and dishes. One of their innovations was to introduce Londoners to the delights of the spicy ‘nduja pizza ten years ago. But under Maria’s leadership the restaurant has created a ‘Progressive Italian’ menu featuring dishes such as London’s first Hemp Pizza with a brand-new turmeric one, too! With gluten-free pasta and vegan, gluten- and dairy-free cheese on the menu it’s finally possible to eat traditional Italian food that’s not only delicious but healthy too!
The interiors are relaxed ‘trattoria style’ with wooden tables and pink terracotta walls with family photos and delightful bric-a-brac from the eponymous southern Italian city of Lamezia adding atmosphere – and in a romantic touch I loved tthere were candles in Chianti bottles. With outside tables for a morning coffee or an alfresco lunch I could have been in Calabria and not Islington.
There has been a lot of debate about the Aperol Spritz recently but there is a time and a place for everything and my friend and I felt this was one of them. That hint of orange sweetness can give you a real lift before eating.
With pizza and pasta on the menu we went for a light starter. A simple Rucola (rocket) salad (£6.50) dressed with shaven Parmesan and extra virgin olive oil was perfect. The pepperiness of the rocket softened by the oil and the cheese.
All the pasta served at Lamezia is fresh. Rustic homemade large tortellini were stuffed with the savoury richness of porcini mushrooms and then slathered with a creamy mushroom sauce (£12) – delicious!
We had to try one of the new pizza bases and plumped for the turmeric which added an earthy note to the flavours. Our Vegetariana pizza featured tomato sauce, mozzarella, sliced peppers, artichokes, mushrooms and extra virgin olive oil (£12) so lots of flavour and texture sitting on a crisp base with a hint of char on the crust.
It’s rude not to have a dessert but we were quite full by now so we decided to share a cannoli. The crisp light outer shell was filled with a rich orange blossom scented ricotta filling. The perfect end to the meal…
Until Maria arrived with complimentary glasses of Mama’s limoncello and chocolate creams. The rich thick chocolate drink was like a turbo-charged Baileys and the lemon was simply lemony and creamy.
If I was an Islington local it would be perfect to have an unpretentious, reasonable priced trattoria like Lamezia in the neighbourhood. The food offer is health-oriented, generous and honest and the service has that old-school Italian warmth that is a selling point in its own these days. I want them to have a dessert trolley and then all would be perfect in the world!
LAMEZIA CONTACT DETAILS
Lamezia Fresh Pasta & Pizza, 165 Holloway Road, N7 8LX
Customer bookings: 020 7609 6620