Tag Archives: italian wichita ks

Luca Italian Kitchen (CLOSED)

5 Oct

CLOSED

A few Sundays ago, Phil and I found ourselves with only my parents for Sunday lunch. This was a nice surprise because it allowed for us to be a bit more adventurous and we were able to try a new spot. We decided Italian sounded good, and as much as we love us some Olive Garden and its endless salad and bread sticks and non-authentic food we opted first for Bocconcini’s but discovered they are closed on Sundays, so we headed to Luca Italian Kitchen in Old Town Square. Phil and I had visited the restaurant once before on a Saturday night, but passed it up once we found there was a long wait.  We were pleasantly surprised to find no wait on Sunday. In fact, there were only two other tables in the whole place.  The waiter quickly brought us out a carafe of water sans ice. How very European of them we thought, as long as they don’t charge us $15 dollars a carafe(FYI: They do that in France).  The waiter also provided us with a little background on the chef and his culinary philosophies. The chef is originally from Italy and up until a few months ago had been working in Denver before he was lured away to open this venture. He puts an emphasis on fresh and local ingredients as well as making just about everything from scratch.

Now I feel the need let you know that  you are not going to find “traditional” Italian dishes that we are used to on Luca’s menu. The menu is small with a good blend of pizzas, foccacia sandwiches, pasta dishes, and main entrees. You wont find plain old spaghetti, manicotti, or mac n cheese, so if you have a problem with that I guess you can stick to Olive Garden. Phil and I started off with a house salad to split and my parents ordered a grilled Caesar salad. Both salads were wonderful and rather large. The Caesar consisted of a split head of grilled Romaine drizzled with dressing.The house vinaigrette on our salad was very good as well. For lunch, I went ahead with the Gnocchi Sorrentina. Gnocchi is a potato based pasta that came in a tomato sauce with homemade mozzarella. The dish is much more simple than I had anticipated. The sauce was fantastic and the pieces of pasta were cooked perfectly. The mozzarella was the star of the dish with large chunks of it hiding in the sauce. I only wish I had added some type of meat to the dish-shrimp was an option and would have been great. Chicken and beef are also options. Phil ordered the Prosciutto Focacce. Think of it as a warm sandwich with prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and arugula served on foccacia bread. Phil really enjoyed the sandwich and I even stole a bite of it because the prosciutto was dang tasty. Our only complaint was that the sandwich came with a side of french fries. This was kind of weak for a restaurant that prides itself as being a traditional Italian place. Our favorite dish of the visit ended up belonging to my mom. She ordered the crespelle di spinachi e ricotta which were savory crepes stuffed with spinach and ricotta cheese and topped with a very rich parmasean sauce. The dish is extremely rich and mom was able to eat about half of it. We happily helped her out with the rest. Luca does have a slightly different dinner menu so there are options like ravioli that are not available for lunch.

Overall, we enjoyed our experience. Our server was very knowledgeable and attentive, we had a nice quiet lunch, and enjoyed our food. I would love to go back and try out the spinach ravioli at dinner sometime. If you are in a hurry this is not the place to go. Since their dishes are all made to order you will find the wait a bit longer than what would typically be expected, but I think it’s worth it for the food you get.

<a href=”Luca Italian Kitchen on Urbanspoon“>

Bella Vita- Wichita KS(The Trojan Horse of Fine Dining)

4 Sep

This weekend we decided to give Bella Vita a second chance visit. On our first attempt we drove all the way over to the west side only to find they had locked the doors 3o minutes before their supposed closing time. Well after a few months of trying to push that out of our minds we were up for round two.

Bella Vita is located in an inauspicious strip mall on West  St. just north of Douglas. You could call it the Trojan Horse of fine dining in Wichita. From the outside it looks like you might be walking into some retro supper club where the Saturday night special is meatloaf with brown gravy. Once you get inside though you start to get the vibe that there is something big going down. We showed up with no reservations on a Friday night(the staff told us this was a no no) and luckily were able to get a table after a short wait. Beware: They like to keep the small waiting area rather cold, so make a note to bring a snuggie to prevent frostbite while waiting. The dining room at Bella Vita is small with only about 12-15 tables set up in two rooms.  The decor of the restaurant, while nice, felt a bit dated. Fortunately the food made you forget all about your surroundings, well almost.

After being seated, our waiter rattled off the specials of the day. Although we were considering the calamari as an appetizer, the stuffed eggplant special won us over. It consisted of thinly sliced eggplant that had been stuffed with rice and peas and then fried. It was served with a delightful marinara sauce that complimented the fried eggplant nicely. Most menu items are A La Carte, so we both ordered side house salads before our entrees. The house salad comes with a lovely sweet balsamic dressing and is plated very nicely with strings of carrot and beet adorning the top. There were many tempting entrees, but in the end I decided to try the Osso Buco Veal special, while Steph went with the Cannelloni Crepes. My veal came served with a nice tomato based sauce and pappardelle noodles. The veal was wonderfully tender with the rich flavor that is expected from this meat. Strangely when I offered Steph a bite of baby cow she was a bit put off, but I eventually coaxed her into trying it. Steph loved her savory crepes. They came with a tasty Black Angus meatsauce and were topped with a wonderfully creamy bechamel sauce. We both thought the crepes were as good as those we had in France.

Bella Vita is the real deal when it comes to fine dining in Wichita. The food is top notch and perfectly executed. Although the environment is a bit lacking, they are planning to remodel in the coming months. Our biggest knock on Bella Vita was the noise level. When you combine a small dining area with a boisterous  Friday night crowd, it can get a bit loud. At one point a woman who may have polished off a bottle of wine by herself was dropping F-bombs. Rather entertaining.

Bella Vita – http://www.bvbistro.com/index.htm

Bella Vita Bistro on Urbanspoon

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