BY PALOMA LACY
A quirky name and great location puts the diner in the right frame of mind.
Add to this a restaurant that’s super busy by 7pm on a Thursday night and you have the start of a winning formula.
Radio Alice in Clapham’s quaint Venn Street is so-called after the pirate radio station which graced the airwaves in 1970s Bologna, where the owners and brothers, Salvatore and Matteo studied.
An unusual name certainly sets this small pizza chain apart from the competition, which in London seems to be growing week-on-week.
Good pizza is not hard to find in our great city, which is good for the diner, but not so good for the restaurateur.
Perhaps because this is a weekday evening, Radio Alice attracts the fun young crowd, singles dining and putting the world to rights, and dating couples.
We bucked this trend as a group of 40-somethings and felt all the younger for the experience.
The restaurant is light, airy and full of colour. Perhaps most joyful of all is our waitress, Valentina from Bergamo, who explained that I would probably recognise the city from a well-known budget airline’s flying schedule. Right she was.
Salvatore and Matteo opened their first Berbere pizzeria in Bologna in 2010, before their first venture in Hoxton, east London several years later, and now, Clapham.
Berbere is a rustic sourdough pizza, which seemed crustier than the usual but perfect for dipping into garlic butter or the sensational honey and nduja dip.
We started proceedings with rosemary almonds, which were sweet and fragrant.
They acted as the perfect snack to have with a glass of wine, and so too did grissini wrapped in speck with honey and nduja dip and the juiciest olives I’ve had in a while.
The list of pizzas is adventurous and exciting, with a good number of white pizzas (no tomato), which, if I’m honest, I’m not sure how I feel about that.
We’re just not really used to pizza minus tomato in the UK. So much so that I order prosciutto de Parma and asked them to add a tomato base, and some fresh chilli for good measure.
My pizza arrived at the table piled high with exceedingly good quality meat and, in my opinion, was enhanced by adding tomato.
My request was greeted as being completely normal so no food snobbery here. Dining with a few friends, we also tried cavolo nero, leek, taleggio, mustard and mozzarella.
Radio Alice keeps it simple as the ‘anchovies’ pizza shows, combining tomato, capers, red onion, lemon zest, oregano, and anchovies.
The price point ranged from £5, up to £11 for some of the meat pizzas, which is no bad thing as it ensures use of the best quality ingredients.
Paloma was a guest of Radio Alice, 67 Venn Street, Clapham SW4 0BD.