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Restaurants & Bars 8

Luca Cafe Locust Point - First impressions are very good

Warthog | Feb 21, 200804:49 AM

I went last night, and the place is already buzzing. Nice space, with some interesting art in the upstairs dining area. There were a few glitches with the computer system, and other such, but on the whole a very respectable "just after opening". They are already much more on track than many places are much longer after opening.

I had two items off the menu, but then, I'm a growing boy. Too bad the growth is now out, rather than up. Oh well.

First up was a veggie pizza. Very thin, crispy crust, of the neapolitan rather than "soda cracker" type. Not exactly like either Joe Squared or Iggies, but I think fans of either of those places will find much to like here. Fans of the doughier, yeastier "Maryland style" pizza crust may not be as happy. The toppings were a wonderful fresh assortment of veggies that made a local critic's list of thigns that are "not pizza vegetables". Tough - this was wonderful. squash, zucchini, arugula, onion, and I forget what all else. Everything was very fresh, very high quality, and the balance of flavors and textures was dead on.

The one oddity on the pizza front was that the menu listed five or so variants, but did not imply any sort of "choose your own toppings" option, and I don't remember seeing a "plain cheese pizza" option that would give one a basic pizza to add toppings to.

The follow-up was "Sam's Hoagie" which contained "every kind of Italian meat you can think of" with "no 'F' mayo!". The menu description was accurate, but failed to mention a very wonderful roll (ciabatta, maybe?) that the hoagie comes on, or the shavings of hard cheese (Parmesan, Romano, or Grana would be my guess - I'm not enough of a cheese maven to tell which) that topped the sandwich, or the roasted peppers hidden under the various meats. It comes with a batch of very respectable fries. This is a big, well made, satisfying sandwich.

If this is an indication of their approach to sandwiches, those searching for a decent cheesesteak might want to try their rendition. Based on the menu description, they aren't going for a traditional Philly steak, but it sound good. If the quality of that hoagie carries through, the cheese steak will be a contender. They also offered a chicken salad sandwich that sounded interesting. There was also a "Luca burger" on the menu described as being slow cooked in a sauce of tomatoes and onions. If I'm grasping what they are saying, it sounds like they cook the burgers in the way one would normally cook Italian meatballs. That might make for a very interesting flavor difference.

In all, I give this one a vigorous recommendation. The menu is limited, but has enough variety (there's also a steak, baked chicken, fish of the day, goulash, and other such) that one should be able to find something of interest. Check it out!

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