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.