The North End. It's a fascinating neighborhood that is teeming with sights, sounds and smells that are sure to win you over the very first time you walk down Hanover Street. I covered some of my favorite North End jaunts back in July when I wrote my Eating Guide to the Neighborhood so I won't get into the neighborhood details. Last night I was fortunate to eat at one of the restaurants I mentioned on my places to try list, Lucca, and it was very good. A two time winner of Best of Boston (2003, 2001) and Best of Citysearch (2006, 2005), and five time Wine Spectator Award of Excellence winner, Lucca impressed me. My wife was upset that I went with a friend and not her, but I'll be happy to take her there another time.
I was camera-less last night so have no pictures to share but I'll do my best to describe my degustation. I started the evening off with a Belvedere Martini, bone dry with olives, just the way I like it. It was expertly prepared and had flecks of ice indicating a vigorous shaking. For my entrée I ordered up the gnocci ai funghi, homemade potato gnocchi served with a wild mushroom ragout, leeks, escarole and shaved pecorino. The wild mushroom ragout was light and bursting with flavor, a perfectly balanced sauce with just the right amount of seasoning. The gnocchi were little pillows of pleasure, not too soft, not too firm, and they stood up very well to the sautéed greens. Each table is also given a basket of Italian bread accompanied by separate ramekins of a pesto chickpea dip and some garlic butter. The bread was perfect for soaking up the sauce remaining in the bowl once the gnocchi were gone.
I thought for just a moment that I would pass on dessert, until I saw the tiramisu offering on the menu. Described as having "strawberry soaked" ladyfingers, I couldn't resist. When the dish arrived however, I must have raised an eyebrow. This "tiramisu" certainly was not. There was no espresso, no cocoa, no anything remotely dark in color which would indicate a well soaked tiramisu. This dessert was more strawberry shortcake than anything else, but let me reassure you, it was delicious! It just wasn't tiramisu.
I highly recommend Lucca but it's not cheap. Dinner for two, two cocktails, two entrées and two desserts will run you close to $100. Make a reservation for a special occasion and enjoy some fine Italian cuisine. Request a table by the open windows and enjoy the view, Lucca is in a prime people watching location on Hanover Street.
Lucca Restaurant & Bar
226 Hanover Street
Boston, MA 02113
Phone 617 742 9200
Make a Reservation