Let me tell you about Lucia. I know you know that David and Jennifer Uygur are opening a new Italian place. Kevin Dean will be the sous chef. How can they go wrong? Remember Lola? Before a restaurant opens they generally ask people in to be their guests while they go through a “dress rehearsal” for the restaurant to come. Hubbard and I were lucky to be invited. We met our friends Slade and Becca at Eno’s for a glass of wine before we walked over to the restaurant.
Bishop Arts District is so alive. It reminds me of lower Greenville, too many years ago to count. A nice picture window looks down the length of the dining room. Lucia is intimate, seating less than 40 people. This immediately takes me back to Rome. So many outstanding restaurants in the ancient city look just like this. Inviting, comfortable. This could be what I’ve been looking for.
Our server is very pleasant. He, also, reminds me of Italy. He does what he’s there to do… make sure you have everything you need. He’s trying to make sure you have a nice time. I never wanted for a thing. I don’t remember an empty glass or ever looking around for him. It was all just magically there when you wanted it. And this is a trial run?
The conversation was great. The food was unthinkably good. I was back in Rome.
The food is fantastic. Taking simple, fresh ingredients and making them into something rich and complex. This is real Italian. The menu is set up in four courses and I would suggest you stick with the true experience and order from all courses. You might share a course if you like. Have a bottle of Terlano Pinot Grigio or Cascena Bruni Barberi. Open with a bubbly Montesel Prosecco. We did all that.
The menu you see might not be the menu we were offered. They’ll serve what is most inspiring through the seasons. We started with the Salumi Misti. It’s hard for me to believe that a person can produce cured meats like this. Orange and fennel sausage. Coppa. Black pepper sausage. And spicy, spreadable n’duja smeared on a slab of fresh bread. I would have been happy with just this. But, I sure did love that chicken liver crostini with fig mostarda. It was one of Slade’s favorites, too. Hubbard had the seared beef tongue with roasted onions and salsa verde. Unbelievably wonderful. The crudo of sea scallop with shaved fennel, radish and olive was bright and refreshing. More wine!
Your next choice will fall under the heading of Primi. Order your pasta. These dishes are offered with a two tier pricing option. You can have an $18 full serving or go for a smaller $12 pasta. Slade had the tagliatelle al ragu and I really loved that. I had the gnudi. Little spinach and ricotta balls that I think of as nude ravioli. Just the wonderful stuff inside ravioli sprinkled with Parmesan and brown butter. Hubbard had the ravioli di zucca. Winter squash ravioli with sage, butter and crush amaretti. I was fully prepared to be unimpressed with “winter quash”. It was perfect. So flavorful and tender. Toasted spelt spaghetti with braised duck. Are you kidding?
You might notice that we got through the entire pasta course with no red sauce or mozzarella cheese. Don’t think about that kind of Italian. That’s not what this is.
There were four Secondi offered and that’s what we had. Our meat courses consisted of slow roasted pork with corona beans and broccoli raab… Quail al mattone (split and flattened) with pancetta, polenta and vincotto… Slow cooked wild Maryland rockfish with pistachios, olive and chard… Skirt steak with cauliflower, fried bread crumbs and garlic anchovy butter. Stealing bites from each other’s plates. It was all impossible to resist.
Does hazelnut cake with poached pears and brown butter gelato sound good? I was running out of steam at this point. Hubbard always has room for dessert and that pannacotta with dry figs and bay syrup was outstanding. I had to take a bite.
I’ve talked about Lucia for a long time. I ate for a long time. I talked with my friends and people at neighboring tables. I drank wine and forgot I was in Dallas. I really didn’t want to leave. I bet we’ll all be talking about Lucia for a very, very long time.