Belinda Evans asked the owners of Sfizio, which opened in October 2018 at 31 Perry Vale, to tell us all about their new venture.
Is this your first restaurant venture?
This is, in fact, not our first restaurant. We previously owned and ran La Luna Pizzeria on Walworth Road near Burgess park and Camberwell, until it was sold in 2012 to a different owner. We also opened and ran one of the first pizzerias in south London, La Pizzeria Italiana, which is still open and trading in Catford and which we opened in 1986 but ultimately sold. In total, we have over 30 years of experience running and establishing restaurants which ar
e still going to this day.
Which regions of Italy influence your food?
Our menu is influenced by various regional cuisines of Italy, since the concept of Sfizio was to incorporate regional Italian food into a tapas-sharing format.
Why did you choose Forest Hill for your new venture?
We chose Forest Hill as it is an extremely vibrant and lively area of south east London, with plenty of people who would be interested in trying our Italian tapas concept as well as our sourdough pizza. We know there are plenty of families and young professionals who wanted something different in the neighbourhood, and we wanted to properly utilise the space left behind by The Perryvale Bistro & Bar.
Everyone is intrigued by the name Sfizio — does it have a special meaning?
Sfizio, when translated directly, means 'on a whim'; however, this doesn't necessarily do justice to the word. Sfizio is derived from the word Sfizioso, which is usually a word used to describe an action which is different, exciting or interesting. As we were introducing a new concept to south east London — in the form of Italian tapas — we wanted to choose an appropriate word which was short and to the point; and embodied our intention to do something different, exciting and interesting by going against the grain of most Italian restaurants and by emphasizing purely traditional dishes.
What is your most popular dish?
We are fortunate enough to have quite a few popular dishes! Our Arancini, Calamari Fritti and Salsiccia con Fagioli are all very popular. Our most popular pizzas are the Piccante Calabrese pizza with Italian pepperoni sausage and Calabrian nduja, and Salsiccia Frierelle pizza served with Neapolitan broccoli and Neapolitan sausage.
We also sell a lot of our fresh pasta which we make — especially the Strozzapreti, which features Provola cheese (smoked mozzarella) and aubergine in a San Marzano tomato sauce.
Do you have a specialty dish?
Our specialty dish is our Panuozzo, as it is something different to what most pizzerias in south London serve. It is a staple of Neapolitan street food — a pizza baguette often stuffed with parma ham, fresh tomatoes and melted fior di latte mozzarella. We have two variations: a Neapolitan-style with buffalo mozzarella and parma ham; and a Gragnano version which includes aubergine, fior di latte mozzarella and Neapolitan sausage.
How do you choose your wines?
We try to provide a variety of lesser-known Italian wines for our customers. We really believe Italian wine is some of the best in the world, and we wanted to showcase some great organic wines on our menu too.
What's your most popular cocktail so far?
It's an even match between the Margherita and the Fragolino. We are currently running our Aperitivo Time offer between 5 and 7pm every Tuesday to Thursday, when customers can receive 2-4-1 on cocktails.
If you have time to eat out in Forest Hill where do you like to go?
We really enjoy BOnA; whilst we make sourdough pizzas ourselves we really appreciate the good quality of pizzas they serve. We also enjoy The Signal pub and the Sylvan Post.
On your doors you have some Italian words — can you tell us what they mean?
Rillasarrsi: Relax. Gustare: Enjoy. Condividere: Share.
This was the mantra developed behind Sfizio — the concept of enjoying, relaxing and sharing your food. It's at the heart of the restaurant and the experience we want to give to every customer.
Visit Sfizio online at www.sfiziotapas.com