When it comes to pizza, I think we can all agree, it's bloody brilliant on virtually any occasion. And one place that's knocking up slices? Family-owned Zia Lucia has several branches in London and when I visited its Balham location, I wanted to see what the hype was all about. After learning of its Naples-inspired oven, unique doughy bites and a namesake literally meaning 'Auntie Lucia', it definitely had promise to be one of the best pizza places in London. But did it deliver?
As I walked inside the venue, I couldn’t help but admire the exposed brick walls, rustic seating and low-hanging mustard-coloured lights. The quirky Beatles portraits and indie frames really added that shabby chic feeling as well. But what made this place extra homey is the blue-tiled handcrafted oven which was in plain sight for you to see chefs slide pizzas through.
Once we were all nestled in, we looked at the menu and started off with drinks. My friend, Hannah opted for a classic Aperol spritz (£7) while I went for something called the hugo (£7), which was a mix of prosecco, elderflower cordial soda and mint. It was light, sweet and the herb added a nice refreshing touch.
As for food, their pizzas are a build-your-own deal, where you get to choose the type of crust, flavour, and the best part – toppings. Because I’m a creature of habit when it comes to pizza, I ended up going for something completely outside my comfort zone.
I ordered the arianna sbagliata (£12.95) which came with gorgonzola, sausage and a hefty drizzle of honey and truffle oil. I asked my waiter what crust would pair best – you can get vegetable charcoal, wholemeal, gluten-free or traditional, all of which are 48-hour slow fermented and inspired by ancient traditions from Italy. Decisions, decisions. My waiter said the charcoal would pair best so I trusted him on this one.
When I bit into my first bite, indulgence was the first word that came to mind. The savoury mix of cheese and sausage was balanced out by the sweetness from the honey – not to mention the fact that it never hurts to add a dash of truffle oil, right?
As for the crust? The black appearance was a bit daunting, but it had a subtle, almost fruity undertone, which never took away from the classic hearty taste we all want from bread.
My friend got the andrea pirlo (£11.50) with a traditional dough, and hers was covered in mozzarella, gorgonzola, apple, and truffle oil. Seeing the crisp fruit atop her dish looked so aesthetically pleasing and when I stole a slice, I noticed the same hint of sweetness that mine had.
Finally, to finish off the evening, I opted for a classic tiramisú (£6.50), and let me tell you, they gave me a HUGE square. Covered in a generous amount of cinnamon, it packed quite a punch with both coffee flavour and its creamy texture.
The DesignMyNight Digest
With a quaint location and cosy setting, this pizza spot is perfect for one-to-one hangs as well as date nights. There also happens to be additional branches in Islington, Stoke Newington, Wandsworth, Hammersmith, Wembley, and Aldgate East, so be sure to stop by your nearest location for a fun little build-your-own experience. You can expect unique doughy bites, classic Italian cocktails and sweet desserts – and the portions are big enough if you're a fan of splitting.
💰 The damage: £50 between two, plus service charge.
📍 The location: 65 Balham High Rd, London SW12 9AP
👌 Perfect for: Cosy Saturday nights
⭐ Need to know: If you're not sure what to get, ask the staff - they're mega friendly.
Craving carbs now? Click here for our guide to the best pizza restaurants in London.