Thursday, May 5, 2011

Luca Italian Restaurant: Home cooking from Tuscany?

Italian restaurants have become a dime a dozen in Singapore...seriously, so many Italian joints? I have tried many of them, and painfully, only a small handful meet the grade when compared to authentic cuisine we get in Italy. Many of the others are Italian inspired...don't get me wrong, these can sometimes be very good...like the Coffee Stars at Dao in Wisma Atria. But when one craves for authentic Italian cuisine, especially the glorious food and wine from Tuscany, there are precious few places to visit in Singapore.

My Florentine friend sent me a sms one evening after he finished dinner...saying that I should go try out this restaurant because it brings home memories of Tuscany for him, I immediately made arrangements to do a dinner with him and his wife.

So with great anticipation, Kin and I arrived at Da Luca...we found out that the chef's name is indeed Luca...and he hails from the town of Lucca in Tuscany. He was previously working in the kitchens of Garibaldi and Gunter's...so he came with impeccable credentials.



He was a fine young fellow, who spoke good English...and while he chatted with Massi and Fran in Italian, he spoke to me and Kin in English and Singlish (lah!).

We started with the burrata cheese salad:



Burrata is a fresh Italian cheese. Made from mozzarella and cream, the outer shell is a solid mozzarella with a soft creamy inside. The cream made the cheese, well creamy and very mild...mozzarella is a very mild cheese anyway...the whole combination, with the blanched spinach and tomato halves is quite excellent, and a wonderful way to start the meal.

We then had the pasta and risotto...for pasta we chose the raviolli in a mushroom cream sauce:



The pasta cover for the raviolli was superbly done...soft, tender, and yet had a very light bite. The inside was filled with minced beef. I found the beef to be a little on the salty side, but my other dinner companions wolfed theirs down. The mushroom cream sauce was superb...rich, luxurious, with a wonderful mouthfeel, and fragrance.

We also had the risotto...also with a mushroom sauce...we realised that we were heavy on the mushrooms this evening...but no matter, all of us loved mushrooms.



This was a superb risotto. Cooked perfectly. Sometimes, risotto is undercooked for the extra al dente effect, providing a slight crunch on the rice on the bite. But not Luca's creation. This risotto was perfectly cooked...each grain of rice has fully absorbed the flavours of the stock, and while still al dente to the bite, is fully cooked. The sauce is very similar to the raviolli sauce, but perhaps a bit less butter, so less rich. One of the better risotto I have eaten for a while. Very good...Brava.

Next was the mixed grill...even though recommended for 2, it was rather a generous serving, so the four of us shared it:



Chicken, pork, sausage, lamb, and very nicely roasted potatos and a sliced portion of a grilled corn. Nice mix. I found the sausage a bit on the salty side again...and had a rather gamey flavour. But the rest was excellent, especially the pork. The lamb was ok, but I thought the lamb at La Nonna I wrote about earlier is better.

And we had a pizza.



With procuitto and mushrooms (again!) and cheese. Very nice, methots. The crust was thin and very tasty. The filling generous. Kin thought it was good, but not exceptional. And I think she was right, though I rather enjoyed the pizza.

And desserts. Kin had the tiramisu...home made, served in a small bowl. For us, it was not spectacular, but nice. But what was spectacular, and indeed one of the best around is the molten chocholate cake with ice cream:



This is one of my favourite desserts, and sadly missed since Sebastian's who used to served the best in my opinion closed. Bakerzin serves a reasonable one. But Luca's tops them all...perhaps even Sebastians. I would rate it as high as the one served at Cut by Wolfgang Puck, but the styles are different. The nice chocholaty crust bursts to a beautiful, luxurious molten core. Heavenly. Superb. Truly Shiok.

Overall, Luca offers a taste of home cooking from Tuscany. It feels like one steps in to the kitchen of someone's home in Tuscany...and allowed to savour the food. Very good, and worthy of several return visits.


Da Luca Italian Restaurant.
1 Goldhill Plaza, #01-19/21
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Da-Luca-Italian-Restaurant/148564715190972?sk=info
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