Monday, January 16, 2012

Dallas Dining: Lucia

My most recent Dallas Dining excursion was to Lucia, also tucked in the Bishop Arts District in Oak Cliff.  It is completely unassuming from the outside (I am not kidding when I say it's on the edge of the ghetto- there was a police car with flashing lights at the house across the street when we arrived, and the hostess specifically made sure we were headed in the opposite direction of the neighborhood when we left!), but the inside is cozy and inviting, and the food is what makes this place truly worthy of all my praise!

I first heard about Lucia last spring from a woman at a baby shower, who raved about the food but warned that it was a tiny restaurant and you had to call at midnight on the first day of the month and leave a message to get a reservation for that month. She wasn't exaggerating! Marissa, my Dallas dining partner in crime, called the morning of December 1 to snag our January 7 reservation! It was completely worth the wait, but this dining destination requires advanced planning!

As I mentioned in my post about Tillman's, allow extra time for parking if you go to the Bishop Arts District on a Saturday night. It took us a few extra minutes to search for parking, wait to park our car in the valet lot (I won't go into it, but we didn't have the best experience with the valet company that evening!), and then walk to the edge of the district to Lucia.

Outside of Lucia-- totally unassuming!
Lucia only seats 36 people at a time (hence the advanced reservations!), so it feels cozy and inviting right when you walk in.  I have never been to Italy, but the decor makes me think of the Italian countryside. There are antique mirrors and bookshelves with cookbooks on the walls and a dresser for the hostess stand when you walk in the door.  The kitchen is open so you can see everything being prepared.  It feels like a home and does not give off any vibe of a stuffy restaurant.  The same is true of the waitstaff.  I wasn't sure what to expect since I knew it was such a small restaurant, but our waitress was very down-to-earth, helpful, and explained everything on the menu.
We started off with an assortment of olives (not my thing, but I still tried one) and some delicious bread. To drink, I ordered my usual favorite, prosecco.   
Delicious bread

The menu is in four sections-antipasti (starter), primi (pasta), secondi (entree), and dolci (dessert). One of the interesting things about this restaurant is that the menu changes often- perfect for frequent visitors to always taste something new, but difficult to recommend items because they may not stick around for long! You can check out their January sampler menu,, to get an idea of what we were given to choose from.  Apparently their salumi is a must-have, so Marissa and I will have to try it during our next visit.
Salumi, which I will try on my next visit!
Rather than stuff ourselves and be miserable, we decided to split our selections and be able to sample more dishes! The first two courses come in small or large sizes, which is very helpful for those with smaller appetites or who are sharing.  Marissa had heard that their pasta was amazing, so we selected the potato gnocchi with a Niman pork ragu.  It was delicious! There was one element that was especially unique to my taste buds, but before I could point it out, Marissa confirmed that she was also tasting it- cinnamon! Splitting it as a first course was definitely a wise decision. We then moved on to our main entree- the veal chop with escarole, sunchokes, and bagna cauda.  The man at the table next to us proclaimed it "beautiful!" when the waitress set it down.  Although I normally don't refer to my food as beautiful, it was very good! I like to think of myself as an adventurous eater, so veal was definitely out of my usual diet! It was a little on the salty side, which I didn't mind but did notice myself drinking more water in response, but very tender and had a great flavor, along with the sunchokes and sauce it was served in. Other than navigating around the large bone, it was fairly easy to split as well. 
Since we paced ourselves, we went for dessert- spice cake with caramel gelato and red wine stewed prunes. I was skeptical about the prunes, but should have known that the whole dessert would be excellent. We polished it off and could have gone for more!  

My rating for Lucia: Delicious food, inviting atmosphere, and friendly staff? Sounds like five out of five to me!

Tips: Make a reservation at the beginning of the month (must plan ahead!), allow extra time for parking, check out the sampler menu for that month online, share plates or come hungry so that you can experience all courses, and be ready for a cozy and delicious dining experience at a little Bishop Arts District treasure!

408 West Eighth Street, Suite 101
Dallas, TX 75208


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