Family run Italian restaurants are so few and far between now but when you find one, they are so charming. If you are a regular, they greet you by name and treat you like part of their family. Lamezia in Highbury Islington is one of those rare ones. Our first visit to Lamezia was so welcoming. Maria is the daughter of the restaurant owner and she is the smiling front of house at Lamezia. She has added a modern twist to the menu with her Progressive Italian” menu and adding some new dishes like the hemp and turmeric pizzas.
She is working with her parents to introduce Lamezia toa new generation of diners. This is their 10th year in business on Holloway Road and has gained a loyal group of regulars. On match days at the nearby football stadium, the regulars will often book their favourite tables weeks ahead.
The casual dining room is busy with a local weekday evening crowd. Nothing like the chain Italian restaurants on the high street, the decor is simple and cosy and to highlight their difference, they have brought back the old straw clad Chianti bottles candle holders.
On the menu, you will find a range of starters and being Calabrian, the one thing that caught my eye was the Nduja bruschetta. You can’t miss the Calabrian Ndjua bruschetta as a starter. It comes in a cute Ndjua pig warmer to melt the sausage and is served with some toast. If you have never had nduja, it is a soft, spicy sausage that melts when heated. It’s really delicious on pizzas or cooked in pasta. Maria’s tip is to add some nduja into a carbonara, which I shall try.
For mains, a choice of homemade pasta and pizzas with a few options for meat and fish. The key here is that you have a choice of pizza base. The dough is made daily by Maria’s father to a recipe that he won’t even share with his daughter. It is a slow rising dough which gives the flavour and aids digestion.
Tasting London’s First Hemp Pizza
For mains, I had the Michele pizza, a special of the day, on a hemp pizza base. You have a choice of normal dough, hemp or turmeric pizza bases to go with the toppings of your choice. The Michele had nduja, buffalo mozarella, porcini mushrooms and basil.
My friend had the porcini tortellini, homemade parcels filled with porcini, coated in a creamy, garlicky, tomato sauce. So many delicious flavours on one plate, had a bit of food envy. The pasta is still hand made by Maria’s mum daily. Her parents still work in the kitchen daily, producing the traditional Calabrian dishes of their home.
For dessert, we had to have the homemade tiramisu. Creamy mascarpone filling on coffee soaked sponge was just the ticket to end this meal.
As in any Italian home, you won’t be allowed to leave without a glass of homemade Limoncello. They have a lovely one here using lemons that he brings back from Italy along with Calabrian chillies to make their house chilli oil. On one of the shelfs in the dining room, you will notice a bottle of Anticho Vecchio Amaro de Capo. This is a typically Calabrian digestif and it tastes like a sweet grappa. Not sure if it is on the menu but it quite worth sampling.
If you are looking for an authentic Italian meal in a cosy family restaurant, you can’t go wrong with Lamezia. Fabulous food, friendly atmosphere and reasonably prized. If only it was closer to home but well worth the trip up to have a meal there. Tell Maria I sent you. She’ll look after you well.
165 Holloway Rd,
London N7 8LX
EatCookExplore was a guest of Lamezia