Friday, April 4, 2014

Luca- Impressive Views and Memorable Food

The restaurant space tucked away at 2100 Superior Viaduct has always been one of my favorite locations in the city. Since moving here in 2007, it has been Ponte Vecchio, Viaduct Lounge, and now...Luca Italian Cuisine. It has one of the most unique, and breathtaking, views of Downtown Cleveland and the river.
Gazing out at magnificent bridges, the east bank, and Terminal Tower doing its light dance every evening is just special. This restaurant location has always felt like a special occasion spot, and Luca is doing just that.

We've had dinner there twice now, just one week apart (it was that good). I selected this restaurant for my birthday dinner, and then immediately took my parents there the following weekend when they were visiting from out-of-town.

Our first visit was everything that you want a fine-dining experience to be. We had a window table with gorgeous views, our server was knowledgeable, attentive, thoughtful, and charismatic, and the food was memorable. Our server made several recommendations, and we started with the TARTAR DI FILETTO MANZO- chopped filet mignon with capers, red onion, parsley, egg yolk and whole grain crostini ($15). This dish was divine, and honestly better than the famous tartar at The Greenhouse across the river. It was so bright and flavorful. We also shared a half order of a pasta that is no longer on the menu. I love it when restaurants offer a half and full-sized portion of pasta. Great for sharing as a starter, or ordering as your entree. "R" then ordered the OSSOBUCO DI CINGHALE with slow roasted wild boar shank, dolcetto wine, julienned vegetables and linguini pasta ($34). The wild board just fell apart at the touch of a fork, and the dish became a great bolognese sauce. It wasn't complex in flavor, but just hearty and well-prepared. I ordered the fish special of the evening, and it was honestly one of the best pieces of fish that I've ever had. Worth the $43 price tag (that wasn't revealed until the check came)? No, maybe not, since several other entrees had sounded just as good. But, I really enjoyed it.
During my second visit, we shared the CARCIOFI AL ARAGOSTO- lobster meat and mascarpone stuffed artichoke breaded with a light tomato sauce ($14). The lobster and cheese were pretty lost in this dish, so it was mostly the fried breading. I'd pass on this dish again. The tomato sauce that accompanied it, however, was wonderful, and we enjoyed sopping it up with our bread. My mother and I both ordered the Beet Salad special that night, and it was the worst beet salad that I've ever had. The dressing was a pistachio oil, and it really lacked flavor. The whole dish just tasted too plain, and a little "dirty" from the earthy beets. Sad, because a beet salad is one of my favorites. The meal quickly redeemed itself though, when the half portion of pasta arrived that my parents shared. It is also a dish that is no longer featured on the menu, but it was a squid-ink ravioli with gorgeous shrimp and hunks of lobster topping it. The sauce on this dish was also fabulous, and I stole a bite or two.

My parents then split the MAIALE AL FUNGHI- Grilled berkshire pork chop with wild mushroom and dolce gorgonzola sauce ($28). The kitchen actually split the whole dish onto two plates, which was so accommodating (no split charge too). This dish was outstanding, and one of the best pork chops that I've tried. I went for something that had caught my eye during our first visit, the RISOTTO DEL GIOR. It changes daily, but that night (and the previous weekend) it was a lobster risotto.
This dish had the most lobster that I have ever witnessed on a plate, and I just kept uncovering large pieces of claw meat. This lobster-lover was in heaven. The risotto wasn't very interesting in flavor, but it was decent. The amount of lobster meat is what really stood out.

Phew, that was a lot to share with you. We had two great meals there, and I'm so glad that the space is being used again. They do have an outdoor seating area, and valet parking. It's just a hop, skip, and a jump from Downtown and the strip of restaurants on West 25th in Ohio City, so it's not to be overlooked if you're dining in the area. I also highly recommend it for a special night out, or if you're trying to impress people with the view.

Have you been to Luca? The chef/owner Luca Sema came from Michaelangelo's in Little Italy, and that restaurant has had quite a following. I am hopeful that this restaurant is here to stay.

Luca Italian Cuisine
2100 Superior Viaduct
Cleveland, OH 44113


eatdrinkcleveland said...

I've been wanting to go there but shudder at the prices. I'm a huge fan of Michaelangelo's and their 1/2 orders of pasta. You post makes me want to bite the bullet and give it a try.

Bite Buff said...

It may be best reserved for a special occasion, but the food has been wonderful overall and the portions are good for the price point. Or, you can join the CLEDinnerClub for the event in June and pay just $40 to try several dishes!