Sunday, May 15, 2011
TRATTORIA LUCCA, CHARLESTON, SC
On the occasion of our grandniece’s graduation from College of Charleston, we dined at Chef Ken Vedrinski’s circa 2008 restaurant, a charming Italian eatery inspired by the ancient Tuscan city of Lucca. Located in the Elliotsborough neighborhood, where gentrification is in progress, this small corner restaurant provided some of the best Italian food I’ve tasted. Food and service were both exceptional, but acoustics were, at times, mind-numbing loud.
If you’re thinking tossed green salad followed by entree, think again. Instead, we feasted on appetizers that could have easily been our entire meal. The Warm Cauliflower Sformatino (with Soft Organic Egg, Pancetta, Parmigiano) was amazingly addictive. Plates of asparagus, wax beans, golden beets with arugula, mushrooms and farro, each served separately and with their own seasonings, were so much more interesting than the usual tossed salad. There were plates of imported cheeses and salumi to feast on as well. Our table of nine gobbled up all of the many dishes that were passed around. But entrees were still to come.
I ordered the local flounder with Parmesan crust and found it to be everything I hoped for. A light citrus-tomato sauce surrounded the delicate and perfectly cooked fish. I also tasted the flat-iron steak with sauteed spinach, another home run.
Too full for dessert, I took bites from those who were brave enough to order. My favorite, the chocolate-hazelnut pudding, was only a photo finish ahead of the Tiramisu cheesecake (a New York-style cheesecake with a tiramisu center layer).
I can’t help being partial to a restaurant that offers farm-to-table produce and fresh local seafood. We don’t get to Charleston often, though it’s only a 4-1/2-hour drive from New Bern, NC, but I’m looking forward to a return visit soon to get more of Trattoria Lucca’s food. Prices, compared to other quality Charleston restaurants, are about average or a little below. Appetizers are $9 each, and entrees range from $19 - $30.
Trattoria Lucca, 41-A Bogard Street, Charleston, SC 29403, (843) 973-3323