Italian food options are abundant in our little city. So when I first heard the news last year that another Italian restaurant was opening in the former location of Iris (previously one of our favorite spots, but sadly another downtown Canton culinary casualty), I’ll admit I was skeptical. But then I started noticing a certain buzz about Lucca, specifically that they are focusing on sustainability by using local meats and ingredients, a definite first for Canton. After hearing of a slew of positive experiences, reading a fantastic review by Tom Noe of Exploring Food My Way, and later, learning that Lucca had been featured on a special “farm-to-table” Canton Food Tour, it was obvious I had been missing out. Then, a few months ago, while celebrating a friend’s birthday downtown , I found myself in Lucca’s bar, sipping on the most delicious cocktail: the Dirty Mary martini, when who should strike up a conversation with me but Josh Schory, Lucca’s owner and executive chef. While chatting, I learned (among other things) that he was a bit….miffed, shall we say, (jokingly of course) that I hadn’t been in for meal yet. I agreed I was overdue for a visit. So, a couple weeks ago, as promised, I finally discovered what all the hype was about.
Named for the region of Italy that inspired the menu, Lucca has an offering unlike any Italian restaurant in this area – a mix of seafood, homemade pasta, house-pulled mozzarella, and meats (steaks, pork, chicken), as well as a few unexpected dishes, all highlighting fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients.
There are definitely a lot of intriguing options, but we narrowed it down pretty quickly.
Side-note: don’t you just die for Instagram?! I mean, seriously, how delicious does that look. So we started with an antipasti: grilled flatbread with prosciutto, served with goat cheese and peach jam. Positively scrumptious. Nothing better than savory and sweet harmonizing in one perfect bite.
At about the time we decided to order, Chef Josh came over to say hello, and offered to prepare us a taste of the night’s feature, sweetbreads with fig glaze. Yes please!
Wow, didn’t we feel important! I confess it was my first experience with sweetbreads. The chef was kind enough to explain the preparation; guess I should have taken notes. What I do remember is that the fig glaze was a delightfully sweet compliment to the intense richness of the sweetbreads. Quite an indulgent treat for a humble foodie like me.
Dave and I opted to start with the house salad with greens, cherry tomatoes, red onion, and maple balsamic vinaigrette. Simple, yet satisfying, the dressing was delicious.
Our dining companion and fellow Lucca virgin, Summer, opted for this gorgeous collection of Breezy Hill Farm heirloom tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, EVOO, and a balsamic drizzle…. heavenly.
Dave’s entree choice was house made beef ravioli with parmigiano basil cream sauce. Delightfully seasoned beef filling, light pasta, and rich creamy sauce made for a true feast.
Summer ordered a vegetarian feature of the evening: an absolutely divine risotto. I managed to get a bite, but the rest of it was history – too delicious to save leftovers.
We all must have been in pasta moods; I opted for gnocchi. I just had a feeling it was going to be really good. This homemade gnocchi was served with smoked chicken (pulled dark meat), roasted tomato and garlic, chicken demi, scallions, and of course a healthy dose of freshly grated parm. Wow, this one’s a showstopper people. I am a complete gnocchi fanatic, and Chef Josh hit all the right notes with this dish. You get the richness of the demi, a strong smokey flavor with the chicken, a subtle sweetness with the roasted ripe tomatoes…..then you bite into the lightest, most pillowy gnocci ever made. Thankfully the portion size was enough that I was able to take home a small box, and the leftovers the next day were just as exquisite. If I had one suggestion to improve the dish even more, it would only be to lighten the salt just a smidge……the individual flavors were strong enough on their own not to require it.
All said and done, an exceptional meal for all three of us. A quick word about Lucca’s dining room – it’s an ideal spot for a romantic dinner, with low lighting and live piano music on some nights. Plus, you get a great view to the kitchen while you dine. If you’re like me and love watching the culinary action, this is a very fun place. They also have a large square bar – a great spot for conversation over a glass of wine or strong martini.