So, everybody knows I have an unnatural relationship with White Burgundy. Last weekend I had Italian white wine on my mind and realized I didn't have much experience with Italian Chardonnay wines. I googled around Piedmont and Alto Adige, ruminated on pinot bianco, and salivated. Since Jeremy or Alfonso weren't handy with samples, the urge to visit Lucia grew more intense than usual.
Within moments of stepping inside Lucia last Wednesday evening, Jennifer Ugyur and I were in deep discussion. I know what I need and I need it now. Bam! Let's try this: Bastianich Vespa Bianco, a blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon and Picolit from the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region. Like, yep.
Well, now we have to eat 'cause I need to drink this – and my friend Maria wants to start with red – and…
^ Salumi misti – Rabbit and pistachio pâté, fennel/orange salame, porchetta, soppressata,
Duck salame cotto, Iardo and chicken liver crostini. Love it.
^^ Crostini with chicken liver and black mission figs.
^ Fritto misto of baby squid, smelt and rock shrimp and with a green almond aioli.
^^ Chickpea soup with rosemary and olive oil.
^ Rabbit tortelloni en brodo.
^^ Cavatelli with lamb ragu, pecorino and mint. Nice!
^ Chef David Ugyur always has something else up his sleeve. As he know my love of sea urchin – this time he whipped up: Smoked lardo on crostini with sea urchin over slow scamled eggs. Frickin' awesome.
^ Slow-cooked pork shoulder with lady cream peas.
^^ Carnaroli pudding with blueberries and almonds.
We closed down the place, sipping away. This was Maria's first visit and beside the food being wonderful across the board, she was really struck by the warmth and care demonstrated by everyone we came in contact with – the lovely Fauna at the door, co-owner and wine director Jennifer Ugyur, and our excellent server Michael (previosly at York Stree and Aurora).
Nice job, once again.
Here we are, back again for more goodness! We had, like, four or five people – so we pretty much ordered the menu:
^ Salumi misti – a tasting of house-made cured meats.
^ Baccala fritters with olive salad and aïoli.
^^ Baby artichoke salad with faro, arugula and Parmigiano Reggiano.
^ Seared beef tongue with roasted onions in salsa verde.
^^ Sea urchin risotto with chives. (Chef David Ugyur knows how to push my buttons.)
^ Raviolone with egg yoke, escarole and brodo Parmigiano.
^^ Potato gnocchi with caramelized cabbage, Gorgonzola and Speck.
^ Orecchiette with spicy lamb sausage, broccoli raab and ricotta salata.
^^ Veal chop with fingerlings, cippolini, guanciale and brown butter.
^ Braised rabbit leg with polenta taragna, root vegetables and Brussels sprouts.
^^ Duck breast with a porcini and foie gras peverada.
^ Hake with celery root purée, capers and celery salad. Jennifer Ugyur delighted our party with her repartee and interesting wine list.
There was Dolci, but it went so fast no pics were possible.
So how was the meal? … let's look at it through the raw lens of the iPhone:
Yep – It's great. Hype: deserved. Anticipation: rewarded. Welcome to Lucia.
^ We are greeted with warm Olives in Rosemary Olive Oil; ^ and a selection of Chef David Uygur's house-made Salumi. The standout is the ridiculously good n'duja (like the French term 'andouille' , 'n'duja' is derived from the Latin for "too insert") - a highly spiced spreadable pork sausage originating from Calabria – here spread on crostini. We had to have a second order. Learn more about n'duja here.
^ A late Friday evening found us among a nice group of like minded Dallas food types.
We decided to grab a bunch of stuff to share on our first visit:
^Seared Beef Tongue with Roasted Onions and Salsa Verde; ^ Crispy Lamb Meatballs.
^ Oyster Risotto with Parsley (Nice); ^ Potato Gnocchi with caramelized Cabbage, Taleggio and Speck.
^ Slow Roasted Pork Belly with Corona Beans and Broccoli Rabe; ^ Panna Cotta with caramelized apples and Aceto Balsamico.
The rest of this week's menu is equally tantalizing. (View the Lucia menu for the week of December 17 here.)
After two bottles of wine, my conspicuous dining companion and I rattle off numerous adjectives in praise of the food – the deft balance of fat and acid, the skillful execution – to which Jennifer U. simply responds, "Well, that's great! We hope you had a lovely time and are glad you enjoyed your meal!" Later on Chef David chats with us in some detail, but kinda humbly shrugs off the accolades. He's just cooking with integrity and procuring great ingredients. The Uygurs have created something special. A small neighborhood restaurant that cannot avoid the reality that it is important for the Dallas food scene.
^ Chef/Owner David Uygur.
It's been over a year since that last service at Ugyar's previous culinary home, Dallas favorite Lola. There has been a real dearth of excitement in restaurant openings in that time, and we've had to endure some painful closings lately. That's why there's almost a feeling of relief that Lucia is as wonderful, welcoming and satisfying as one might have hoped for. It's great already, and they are only getting started.
^Manager/Owner Jennifer Uygur at the window of her Bishop Arts District gem.