Italian food is one of my favorite things to eat. That being said, it seems that Italian restaurants that make their own pasta are fewer and farther between than they once were. Well, there’s a new place in Durham that dares to not only make their own pasta, they also make their own bread AND mozzarella. This magical place is called Lucia and it’s a part of the Urban Food group, which also brings us Vivace and Chow.
The place is gorgeous! The lighting is just bright enough, the music plays at the perfect volume and the wait staff was perfect. But more than that, the food was…well, by the end of the meal it was all gone. Let’s review…
As I mentioned, they make their bread in house. There are two kinds, a deliciously spongy bread and some thin and crispy flatbread. They served it with a bean dip that had so much pizzaz and flavor.
We placed our order and were brought a little something spectacular. The house version of a caprese salad – with house made mozzarella and a pesto that actually changed my opinion of pesto. I DO NOT LIKE PESTO…this one was beautiful! The balance of basil and salt was just magic. On top of that, the balsamic was thick and delicious. They really killed it. As simple as a caprese can be, this one had all the complexity that is needed to keep you interested and begging for more.
This is the mixed greens salad with roasted fennel, orange, olive, ricotta salata, citrus vinaigrette. It was very well balanced – and the dressing was outstanding and full of flavor. The fennel and orange were perfectly complimented by the ricotta salata and the dressing.
The meat balls were not my favorite thing we ordered, but they were still really good. The sauce was very flavorful and what a huge portion. But this was the first time, and the only time of the night, that I wished I had salt. Other than maybe a little salt, they were great. They were juicy and cooked very well.
The bruschetta was beautiful – topped with cherry pepper pesto and prosciutto. Again, I don’t like pesto, but this was so beautiful. I loved the ingredient combination of this dish – great amount of spice from the greens balanced out by the pesto. Loved this.
This is the polenta with parmesan and mushrooms. I can’t eat polenta, so I can’t really say how it was but the person in my party that ordered this dish ate the whole thing and was thrilled with it. I tasted a very delicious and flavorful mushroom – if the rest of the dish was as good as that mushroom, I’d say go for it.
Lucia offered wood fired pizza – yes the dough is hand tossed in house…
I promise. The pizza ordered at our table was the margarita pizza – and even though I didn’t taste it, I will say it was eaten in entirety by it’s orderer. He said that the dough was a great consistency and the toppings were delicious.
The sweet potato gnocchi were also ordered. I wasn’t blown away by the gnocchi itself (because I’m not a fan of sweet potato gnocchi, I’m a traditionalist), but the flavors in the sauce and the cook on the veggies were both great.
The wild boar ragout was ordered both in it’s gluten free version…
and it’s traditional form. I am delighted to report…the gluten free noodles were just as good as the ones made with flour. This dish was outstanding. Really, truly delicious.
I ordered the squid ink rigatoni with lump crab meat, red pepper, basil and oreganata (which google says means “with oregano”). Wow, the cook on the noodles was perfect, the sauce had an amazing pop and the crab meat was cooked beautifully and had no fishy flavor. This was the kind of dish that you get about half way through and think…I should ask for a box, but then you keep eating and realize that you’ve already finished before you can ask. No one in our party had left overs. It was that good.
Nutella bundino. The tiramisu was fine, not my favorite in the area, but certainly not my least favorite. The nutella budino was outstanding. It was like brownie batter pudding on crack.
I liked it a lot.
In conclusion…go. We had an incredible night filled with delicious food, a great selection of wine, beer and cocktails as well as outstanding service. We were all card carrying members of the clean plate club, including our dessert plates. The true test of a great place to me also is that I left Lucia thinking about what I’m going to order next time…and as much as I loved what I ordered, I can’t WAIT to try something else.