A good friend of mine recently quit his job in preparation for an extended vacation where he’ll be traveling across Asia (I’m quite jealous) and to celebrate his last day at work this Friday we decided to go out for a feast!I’d passed Luca Cucina Italiana several times whilst wandering around Berkeley and was intrigued by the cozy atmosphere that seemed to radiate from the place. As a bonus I’d seen the name come up several times while browsing my “Find Me GF” app. So off we went with growling tummies and visions of delicious pastas dancing in our heads.
The glimpses I’d seen from outside the restaurant were correct in leading me to expect a warm environment. The interior is softly lit with beautiful art lining the walls on one side and rustic bricks on the other. Even better than the atmosphere was the fantastic dinner service. The waitresses at Luca were very attentive and helpful! The woman in charge of our table immediately pointed out which menu items could be made gluten free for me and was also able to suggest a wine pairing for my meal. Oh man and what a meal it was!
We started with two appetizers – the carpaccio antipasti and special antipasti. The carpaccio included thinly sliced filet mignon topped with arugula, parmigiano, capers, red onion, and lemon. The onions and lemon were to the side of the other ingredients so we were able to add those at our leisure. I opted to combine all pieces of the dish so I got an extremely fresh slightly salty, slightly acidic bite of filet every time. It was incredible. The special antipasti that day included fresh roasted red pepper, mozzarella drizzled with olive oil, and sautéed portobella mushrooms. The portobella mushrooms on that antipasti were one of my favorite parts of our entire meal. They were cooked to perfection so you got a burst of fantastic mushroom flavor with each bite. Not going to lie, I snuck a few onto my bites of carpaccio and it was heavenly.
Onto our main courses! The guest of honor ordered the panna penne with meatballs, Eric went with the chicken piccata with fusilli, and I had the chicken marsala with gluten-free penne. Unfortunately I can’t comment on the taste of any order but mine (since mine was the only one ordered gluten-free), but I can say that everything smelled delicious. So, since 90% of taste is smell I’d say that’s a pretty glowing review for everything ordered. Anywho, let’s get into an in depth description of my incredibly delicious chicken marsala. My first compliment really has to go to the thinness of the chicken. The chicken breast were as close to paper thin as (I believe) you could humanly get them and were cooked to crispy perfection. These were topped with mushrooms in a smooth buttery and sweet marsala wine sauce. Finally there was the gluten free penne, cooked perfectly and tossed in a light tomato sauce. I was really impressed by the two sauces on my dish – both were packed with flavors, but neither o
verwhelmed the chicken or penne. Something I’ve found is quite difficult to achieve.
If you’re in the Berkeley area you need to try this place out. Gluten free Italian is
a rarity and Luca is an absolutely wonderful time. I hope you enjoyed, now go have your own fantastic Italian adventure!