Sunday, 25 January 2009


I've been hearing good things about Lucca for years, but it just never made it onto my list. I went last summer with co-workers, but just for appetizers and drinks, so I still hadn't eaten a meal there until tonight.

But man, tonight was good! I was intrigued by a pasta on the menu, the only vegetarian entree, I think -- there was an ingredient I didn't recognize and I would have asked about it except that the small plates sounded so appealing. Mom was my dinner companion and we decided just to make a whole meal of small plates. We began with a baby spinach salad with apples, bleu cheese and candied walnuts. It was dressed with a light, tangy vinaigrette, and we both enjoyed it. This was also the beginning of our excellent service: knowing that we were splitting everything, the waiter brought us the salad split onto two plates. There was also good bread on the table.

Next came our sweet potato soup with apples and pomegranate. The soup itself was good, although I considered adding salt or pepper until I tried a bite with the tart diced apples in it. They were piled in the middle, and really highlighted the flavors of the soup. I didn't detect the pomegranate, but it didn't matter. The soup was quite good.

Then the waiter delivered our polenta pizetta, broccolini, and myzithra flatbread. The flatbreat was served with a lentil-based hummus-type dip that was a little bland, and a green olive tapenade that more than made up for it. It was also served with a small dish of marinated mixed olives, which were delightfully lemony. The broccolini was good, although it was served with bread crumbs that felt extraneous. It was described as having chili flakes, and while I didn't see them, I did taste a bit of heat. The polenta was my favorite. It was a round cake of polenta with fontina cheese and baby greens on top, and it was so light and fluffy I wondered whether it had eggs in it and was made like a quiche. I would order that again in a heartbeat.

We were stuffed by the time he brought the dessert menu, but we made a deal: if they had a chocolate ice cream or gelato, we'd try it. Well, they did have one -- dark chocolate, our favorite. It was delicous, easily as good as any ice cream I've made at home (and I love homemade ice cream). It was also a very generous portion. Between the two of us we didn't finish it!

The service was great all night. Our waiter brought things at a good pace for us, smiled and cooed at the baby, promptly brought a high chair, checked in with us frequently, but not too frequently, and even made an effort to place our food down on the table out of the baby's reach.

There were many non-vegetarian options as well, but there were enough vegetarian options, particularly in the small plates, salads and soups, that we had trouble deciding. I think you'd have a harder time as a vegan.

It was a fine meal with good service, and I'd definitely go back. I also enjoyed getting the small plates and would recommend it.

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