Delicious Gluten Free Italian at Luca Cucina Italiana Feast

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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

ⓛⓞⓥⓔTricia

Delicious Korean Food AKA Anniversary Feast!!

I first tried Korean food my freshman year of college and man is it just obscenely delicious. It’s right up there with my mom’s food (number one forever and always) and Indian on the list of foods I will completely stuff myself with to the point of sickness. Seriously, Korean’s know their way around flavors. So why am I going on about Korean food and how fantastic it is? This past Wednesday was Eric and my seventh year dating anniversary. So of course we had to celebrate with tons of delicious food and the only place we could think to provide that service was Downtown Oakland’s OHGANE Korean BBQ Restaurant.

OHGANE Mural

Incredible mural outside the OHGANE restaurant

I feel that a little bit of history is in order here, I didn’t find out about my gluten issues until my junior year of college and had not been to a Korean restaurant since then. I’m generally skeptical of any Asian food that relies heavily on soy sauce because that shit is snuck into everything and I’ve been bitten in the butt several times by it before. Because of this I asked my server to check that everything I ordered was gluten free and he assured us all of our food was safe. I am going to add the disclaimer though that ingredients can depend on food brands and food prep varies in every kitchen so if you have celiac please for the love of god proceed in eating any of the shown dishes with extreme caution.

We ordered mung bean jun and kimchi kimbop as appetizers. If I had to compare jun to anything it would probably be potato pancakes, but with a bit more of an earthy taste. Kimbop is similar to sushi in the way it’s presented, but the taste (I would argue) is completely different. Ours had this incredible spicy, pickled flavor from the kimchi. Not going to lie I ate the majority of the kimbop… but I had no choice they were too delicious to leave on the plate!

Mung Bean Jun    Kimbop

Oh, maybe I should also mention the ABSURD array of side dishes that came
with our food. I mean holy guacamole were there a ton, sixteen in all. There was an array of different kimchis, several vegetables prepared in various ways, and ones So Many Side Disheswe had absolutely no idea about. We tried them all and the only one we weren’t overly fond of was the dried fish, which by their size I would guess were anchovies.

We ordered two main courses, kimchi stew for Eric and beef short rib stew for me. These came out literally boiling hot in their bowls, which was just way too cool. Eric’s soup was super kimchi-y and spicy. In fact, it was such a mouth burning, hiccup inducing spicy we were only able to finish about one cup each. My soup on the other and was quite mild. It had this incredible garlic-y, onion-y, beef flavor. I’m not talking about an out of the box beef broth flavor. Oh no, no, no, no I’m talking about the flavor of my mom’s homemade ox tail soup that could only be gotten by braising meat still on the bone for hours on end. Oh man, nothing can compare.

Beef Short Rib Stew

BOILING HOT beef short rib stew

So to say the least dinner was delicious and we had an abundance of leftovers packed up for us. To top everything off at the end of our meal they unexpectedly brought us yogurt drinks (yakult I believe) which had a tangy, sweet taste to them. I loved them, Eric wasn’t thrilled so I drank both. Oops.

Well I hope you enjoyed this post, now go out and have your own Korean food adventure!

7th Year Anniversary Photo

ⓛⓞⓥⓔTricia