A brief food and drink guide to Lower Holloway

From great pizza to a vegan cafe and local tap room, where to head for on this changing stretch

PIZZA: Zia Lucia

Some of the best pizza in north London. Photo: PR
This mid-section of N7’s famous thoroughfare is an intriguing proposition. Long ignored and seeming unchanging, the game-changer – long before Westerns Laundry opened this summer, garnering critical acclaim – was perhaps this excellent, and equally garlanded, trattoria.

Expecting a roadblock, even on a Saturday lunchtime, my partner and I were comfortably through the doors by 1230pm. It worked: we bagged the last two seats in the house, the smallish room already alive with sprawling groups of families feasting, local couples chinking glasses, and tiny kids teetering on stools, legs held by fathers pointing out the wood-fired oven. By 1pm, queues snaked out the door. It sure is popular.

It never looks like this. Photo: PR
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 dough: 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 just over £40 for two people with two pizzas. Not bad, then, for some of the capital’s best wood-fired. Now, about those queues. Open daily, 157 Holloway Rd N7

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BAR: House of Hammerton

Low ceilings: a minimal tap room. Photo: SE
Hammerton Brewery originally began brewing in Islington in 1868, before operations stopped in the late 1950s. Fast forward to 2014 and a member of the Hammerton clan decided to resurrect the family business. Well, why not?

Now one of the capital’s best microbreweries, they’ve just opened their first very simple tap room, House of Hammerton, in the former Wig & Gown on Holloway Road. Alongside the beers, IPAs and ales is a streetfood kitchen serving corn dogs and caramel chicken wings. 99 Holloway Rd, N7

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Five others to look out for

A vegan Buddha bowl at EZ & Moss. Photo: Facebook

Provisions, craft beer, charcuterie and wine shop in a stylish space. 167 Holloway Road N7
Stokey Bears, hit N16 burger joint opens this month next to the Horatia pub. 96 Holloway Road N7
129 HRD, brasserie and cocktail bar with 2-course lunch menu at £15 (with glass fizz). 129 Holloway Road N7
Baan Kati, next to Zia this is packed trad Thai restaurant. 155 Holloway Road N7
EZ & Moss, coffee shop and veggie/vegan hang. 183 Holloway Road N7

Read our review of Westerns Laundry here

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