January is definitely a month that calls for comfort food and there are few dishes as comforting as a plate of freshly made pasta. I had the pleasure of visiting Luca in the heart of Clerkenwell recently and I can safely say it was one of my favourite meals in a very long time.
As soon as you walk into Luca, you’ll see the marble bar with a few tables to the side, colleagues and dressed-up couples sat back to back, train carriage style. And all that is before you even get to the beautiful, what-a-looker dining room, with its high wooden ceilings, and very expensive looking furniture. You’ll think: this is bloody lovely. And that’s the thing with Luca. Sitting at the bar, making your way through the three course £26 express menu, with a glass of wine, is epic. You’re flying. You’re having one of the greatest lunches of your life. You’re already booking your next date night here.
Much of the menu is modern European, bringing British seasonal ingredients to the table through an Italian lens. To start there was some beautiful antipasti to choose from, burrata with a kale pesto and mortadella cream and a plate of Italian salami the definite highlights. Then there was the their legendary snack dish, the parmesan fries, basically crispy, fluffy churros for people who adore cheese, just god damn beautiful.
For ‘primi’, the tagliatelle ai funghi was a definite stand out, as was the classic rigatoni with pork sausage ragu, tomato, anchovy and mint. This was the kind of dish you want to high-five and pat on the back for doing a great job. The ragu is super rich, but the mint and rigatoni keep it tasting fresh. This was one of my favourite things at Luca.
Meaty secondi dishes of Ribeye of Hereford beef with a garlic emulsion and seasonal mushrooms and braised ox cheek with celeriac, cavolo nero and horseradish were both equally banging, be sure to order a side of buttery pan-fried sprouts for the ultimate side dish.
To finish a spectacular meal, a Luca signature of Sicilian lemon tart with fennel ice cream, it might just make you use the word ‘zingy’ out loud in public, but it’s definitely worth it.
Without a doubt a restaurant for a special occasion, ideal for a birthday celebration, anniversary or ultimate night of indulgence.
Price Rating – £££
Ambience – *****
Service – ******