Peter Morrell and his wife enjoy Italian food at its best in this charming restaurant
My visit with my wife to this restaurant on London’s lively Holloway Road was a double celebration. It was Lamezia’s 10th birthday and our 43rd wedding anniversary. During our conversation on the way to Lamezia we lamented the passing the Italian restaurant where we had a meal on our first date. Its location is now buried under a massive office block on Buckingham Palace Road.
When we arrived at Lamezia it was almost like coming home. The décor of the restaurant was in a cosy, rustic style and at 7:30 the place was already buzzing with diners having a good time and enjoying the food. Like the eatery on our first date, it’s family owned and offers the type of Italian food we both love.
The restaurant is named after the Calabrian city of Lamezia, the original home of the owners. Since April of this year Maria Dell’aquila, the owners’ daughter has taken over the running of the restaurant. She is the most charming host and gave us a very friendly greeting on arrival.
We were soon settled in by the window which looks out over a small area in front of the restaurant for al fresco dining in warmer weather.
The menu has got numerous interesting dishes and in both the starter and pizza section ‘Nduja features. This is a spicy, spreadable salame that originates in Calabria and the owners introduced it to Londoners 10 years ago.
To start my wife chose the Calamari Fritti and I had the Antipasto Platter for one. Both dishes were exceptional, the squid was encased in a light batter and was moist and tender with lots of flavour. My Antipasto was a real treat, it was beautifully presented and had four different types of sliced salume, air dried ham, olives and a number of soft and hard Italian cheeses.
The choices of main course were extensive, pasta, pizzas, meat and salads. The salads could have been either a side or a light bite and the meat section offered meatballs or chicken. After some consideration my wife decided, from a long list (including the ‘Nduja), to have the Fiorentina pizza with tomato sauce, mozzarella, spinach, egg, mixed peppers, red onions and grated goats cheese. There are variations of pizza base, regular sourdough, the unique wheat and hemp and tumeric. The main I selected was the Spaghetti Scoglio with mixed seafood and chopped tomatoes.
My spaghetti was fully loaded with seafood, squid, prawns and freshly steamed mussels, and the tomatoes were packed with flavour. My wife declared her pizza as one of the best she had ever eaten. There was lots of taste in the sourdough base and it was generously topped with a combination of ‘fresh as a daisy’ ingredients. We thought that both of the mains were highly satisfying.
There is a well-curated list of red and white wines representing a number of Italian regions. Our pairing for the meal was a red from Emilia Romagna, the Andantino Sangiovese Rubicone IGT. This had abundant cherry aromas in the bouquet. On the palate it was medium bodied with generous fruit flavours, with hints of nuts and raisins. The tannins were well-balanced making it silky smooth and the finish was strong and persistent.
Desserts were beyond us despite the temptations of Cannolo, that tube-like filled delight, and one of our favourites Tiramisu. We finished with a decaf cappuccino, but you can’t leave Lamezia without sampling the grappa-based home-made chocolate liqueur, it’s simply divine.
Maria looked after us very well and the service was faultless. Although this was reminiscent of our first date, Italian food has definitely moved on. The same magic of fresh basic ingredients is still there but it is now even more exciting with the introduction of regional ingredients like ‘Nduja, a wider variety of salame and cheeses, and on-trend varieties of pizza base.
This was an excellent dining experience with great food and service in a relaxed atmosphere.
65 Holloway Road, Islington, N7 8LX