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Casa Luca, Osteria-Influenced Italian in the old Againn Space at 11th Street and New York Avenue Downtown - Reconcepted as a Sfoglina


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6:30 reservation today. opening night. Staffed for twice the reservations, which was good. Service was smooth, save for an excessive amount of checking in, which I attribute to opening night caution. Not a problem...

The food was delicious. We had three starters: the corn and proscuitto, tomatoes and stracciatlla (?) cheese and the fried olives. Here's a hint...if you get both the corn and tomatoes at the same time you have a freaking perfect summer combination and for $8 ($4 each) you have vegetable perfection. The olives rocked even though fried olives is not my ideal dish.

For mains we had fish. I had the bronzino and my partner had the dorade. Both were large servings of excellently cooked fish, lovingly deboned but somehow served almost whole. OMG, I have had a lot of wine so my adverbs and adjectives fail me, but both entrees were perfect. I am harsh about restaurant fish, but they nailed it.

For dessert, we shared the Hazelnut coffee cake. My only nit here is that we wanted more of the accompanying gelato.

The wine guy helped us choose one of the $28 bottles...a long list of interesting selections. This $28 list is a great feature of Casa Luca.

A big win, all around. Can't wait to return, Go, now, before the gentle prices rise. GO.

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Wow. What a meal! We went tonight at 5:30 before Anything Goes (see the show!, it's great) and it was already half full. We had almost the same meal as dcandohio. We started with the corn, mint, prosciutto plate and the tomatoes. Both were delicious, nicely plated with edible flower petals, and tasted like summer. We then split the gnocchi with duck, which was heavenly with light gnocchi and a robust sauce with hints of either citrus or apple - my partner and I disagreed which flavor it was, but we agreed we loved it (and the dish came out already divided on two plates, a nice touch). I had the branzino with tomatoes, olives, and fennel, and my partner had the monkfish. Both were great and we couldn't figure out which one we liked better, although I have to say the artichokes with the monkfish were amazing. I had a glass of the Pinot Grigio, and it was crisp and a good foil for the food. For dessert we had gelato: pistachio, caramel, and burnt honey. Very good, but not the best I've ever had.

Service was great, and impressive for the second night of being open. They heard my offhand comment about going to the theatre, and checked in several times to make sure that the pacing was right. Not too fast, bust brisk enough to get us out the door by 6:50 or so. The total was ridiculously low for food of this caliber at about $100 total + tip. (They are having 10% off all food for the first month they are open, but it was so good and already such a good deal, it's not even necessary).

Go. Now. This is going to become an impossible reservation, and you will want to eat through the whole menu. I already want to play next trip back. I work nearby, so this should become a good "meeting friends for a nice lunch" place.

Reading this, it sounds like I am in love with my new favorite Italian joint in town.... :)

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Echoing the above posts: Night two and very, very good. A couple service errors but to be expected. The heirloom tomato dish paired well with the lovely brioche style cheese bread. Mixed seafood grill for two was excellent, all the seafood (head on shrimp, calamari, clams, branzino, scallops) was cooked perfectly...branzino was crispy skinned and fabulous. The scarfata (eggplant, tomato, peppers cooked to melting soft and topped with breadcrumbs) made a great side dish for the seafood. Only miss was the "dessert slider," good pistachio gelato did not need a dessert roll.

Wine list well put together, with pricing at every level - $8 for a glass, 500ml in the $20 range, a list of bottles all at $28, and a reserve list. You can drink wine with your meal and not feel like you are getting screwed! overall a very impressive second night.

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A Marche Adventure

Scrippelle Mbusse is "Savory Crepes, Smoked Ricotta, Hen Brodo" (72 hour double stock reduction) and a signature first course. Another is Elbow Maccheroni or large head on "Prawns, Shellfish Brodetto, Spicy Eggplant Funghett" served tableside in a copper pan where the Maccheroni and prawns are plated immediately before serving. I would suggest this will be the "lobster ravioli" of Casa Luca. It is a GREAT dish, absolutely delicious with large flavors and texture-a wonderful introduction to the Marche region of Italy which comprises 70 to 80% of the menu.

The meal actually starts with a large puff bottom crusted classic cheese bread with a small slab of creamy flavorful buffalo butter accompanying it. "Thin Grilled Crescia Montefeltro Style" flatbread is a worthy way to scoop up spicy Calabrese 'Nduja.

We added several small bites featuring heirloomed tomatoes and stracciatella ($4), summer corn, proscuitto and mint ($4) and "Cazzimperio" which is anchovy salsa Verde ($4). The heirloomed tomatoes and stracciatella are destined to be enormous popular in the future. Chunks of our cheesebread swathed the olive oily bottom of its cups dabbing at every drop left

Fabio's signature meat dish will be the two inch thick Guiseeppe Braciola pork chop (which was his father's Sunday specialty). It is served with an orange rosemary gremolada and a souffle cup of creamy, intensely garlicy paste to slather on the chop. We also ordered a side of scarfatta which are chunks of eggplant, tomatoes, peppers and toasted bread crumbs spooned tableside from a ceramic dish. A perfect accompaniment to the amazing hunk of bone in, deeply flavorful and juicy three finger thick pork chop which was a staple of Fabio's Sunday summer table in Marche.

Casa Luca is a celebration of these dinners with long prepared, carefully sourced food presented with large, stunningly original flavors different from what much of North America has seen before. The word adventure surfaced at our table: of the 14 dishes we were fortunate to try most were totally new flavors and textures we had not encountered on this side of the Atlantic. Many reminded us of how much we loved Marche when we visited the coast five years ago. While Casa Luca adjoins the old site of the D. C. Convention Center it is not exactly Rimini nor, as Uliassi, is it a restaurant on the beach.

Yet, in its own way it is a wonderful and well worthwhile adventure already known but soon to become one of the most difficult reservations in D. C. Fabio has spectacularly introduced the food of his family and his youth; it is entirely different from any other Italian here, and i think I have found in America. Big, exciting flavors comfortably presented. And, in the beginning remarkable bargains as Washingtonians are introduced to some of the most wonderful "Sunday" meals they have never expereced.

Just don't leave without the prawns and elbow Maccheroni, the hen with the 72 hour reduction, "pork chop",a rich and flavorful salami al cioccoloto grappa laced log and the best Lemoncello of anyone anywhere.

Curiously we might have had this restaurant a number of years ago: Fabio wanted to open a Marche restaurant downtown while he was still at Maestro and Marriott disagreed. I expect this to be a serious contender for James Beard's best new restaurant in the U. S. this year. If it wins I wonder how Marriott will feel? I'd suggest, based on its seamless second night of operation it is a leader for this award. And no fewer than six of Maestro's alumni still work at Casa Luca today believing in Fabio and sharing his vision.

I wish Fabio the absolute best of luck with Casa Luca.

Bravo, chef!

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it is entirely different from any other Italian here, and i think I have found in America.

This all sounds fantastic, but on the flip side, how accessible is it for a picky 13 year old? My sister will be in town with her two teenagers and I have reservations at Casa Luca, but I'm not sure my niece will be crazy about the menu. I sent it to my sister, who said maybe they could do pasta with olive oil. I'm hoping to stick with the reservation and maybe my niece would be surprised at what she likes, though I hate to impose my preferences on my visiting family.

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This all sounds fantastic, but on the flip side, how accessible is it for a picky 13 year old? My sister will be in town with her two teenagers and I have reservations at Casa Luca, but I'm not sure my niece will be crazy about the menu. I sent it to my sister, who said maybe they could do pasta with olive oil. I'm hoping to stick with the reservation and maybe my niece would be surprised at what she likes, though I hate to impose my preferences on my visiting family.

I was here again last night. A picky 13 year old would love this place. Beware, those $4 vegetables are now $6 - and you must get them - so the unsustainable opening prices have already started to change.

Get the $28 Soave. What a wine list!

Boy did we have a good time.

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We used to make the trek out to Maestro on a fairly regular basis, and we greatly missed it. But, while Fabio was in NY, we had a child who cramped our style and has prevented us from making it to Fiola. We were thrilled to hear that a slightly more casual option would be coming so close to where we live, so we went the first night it was open that we were in town - Monday. It did not disappoint!

The food was absolutely delicious, but there were some service snafus that I think won't last long.

We started with the antipasti, which included a soft cheese (can't recall the name), proscuitto, clams and pesto. We had also ordered - after some upselling - some bread, thankfully, as absolutely none came with the antipasti. This makes no sense to me. Never have I been forced to order something else in order to eat a cheese plate; it's not really cool. But, the crescia that I received (instead of the cheese bread that I ordered) was very good. Not what I would have matched with the cheese and pesto had I known that they didn't do it for you, but still excellent - layer after layer of buttered goodness made into thin melty rounds.

Noting that we don't have many good options for seafood, we decided to share the mixed grill of fish and shellfish and the baked tomato side. This was a lot of food! All of it amazing! Branzino, monkfish, octopus, calamari, mussels, prawns, and clams. Cooked absolutely perfectly. And still good after sitting for a while as we finished our starter.

As an apology for some clumsy service issues (it was the third day open, of course there would be some issues!! no apology was needed!), they went above and beyond and gave us two desserts, a sweet bun with vanilla gelato and something that resembled a brownie sundae, but so much better. Despite being completely full, we devoured them both with great pleasure.

Every single bite we ate was amazing. And judging by the attention that was being given by the service, I would assume that the service problems will be taken care of shortly. Our waiter was great and seemed to have the makings of an excellent one, but the single week of training was still apparant. I expect this restaurant to have its kinks sorted out shortly and for it to be filled every single night. And we will be trying to grab a table many of them!

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We dined al fresco with the little dude a on Tuesday evening, and loved the place. Although there were a couple minor service issues, we were showered with attention from the managers, likely due to my son's habit of flirting with whoever smiles at him.

Another thumbs up for the tomatoes and stracciatella. We started with that and the scrippelle, which was amazing and unlike any other Italian dishes I've had. We didn't order any bread, but I'd like to try some on a return visit. I had the braciola and the wife the monkfish. The braciola was the clear winner, even if it was cooked just a hair too long for my tastes. The seasoning and crust were stellar, as was the gremolata and garlic puree. The monkfish was good...the addition of dill to the sauce elevated it a notch, although a few of the artichokes were quite woody. We ordered affogato and limoncello for dessert and were suprised that the affogato is really more of a chocolate brownie sundae, with no coffee to speak of. I mean, we ate every bit, but it wasn't what we expected.

Aside from the small service mishaps which will be worked out soon, it was a very enjoyable meal. Between this place, Red Hen, and Etto, we're on a great streak for Italian restaurants in the District.

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Two items were totally undercooked. The prawns in the campanelle were raw on the inside, as was the monkfish in the mixed grilled seafood (there's a picture of the fish with translucent flesh and blood). The first sign the fish is raw is when I stuck my knife down and it bounced back. I did enjoy the pasta in the campanelle. Steve can elaborate on why he liked some of the dishes but I was not impressed. On a Thurs night around 6 p.m. and the restaurant wasn't even full.

The cazzimperio is a crudite with a small sliver of anchovy. The heirloom tomato and stracciatella is tomato and cheese. The scripelle 'mbusse is an egg crepe with some kind of cheese inside, mushrooms and broth. The campanelle is pasta in tomato sauce with two prawns - as stated previsouly, I enjoyed the pasta but I detect no shellfish brodetto. The mixed grill had good squid, scallops and branzino, the clams and mussels didn't taste good, the shrimps were mushy and the monkfish was raw in the middle.

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Mr. MV and I ate at Casa Luca this week and had some highs and lows, but will definitely go back soon to try other things on the menu. There is a lot to explore.

Given that Casa Luca is new and a restaurant of Fabio Trabochi's, I write this a bit nervously-- but I don't want to equivocate, rather, I'm going put the whole truth out there regarding some highs and lows that matter.

We loved the ambience, but ladies might want to bring a sweater to hang around the shoulders because the chill is a bit bracing at first.

The banquet tables are close, but not so much that you are basically having a 4-6 way conversation with your neighbors, or that your drink is in danger of being knocked over by someone's ass as they shimmy by.

We were seated right away and given menus. Good thing, because the menu takes time to wade through if you're not fluent in Italian, or experienced in eating in a traditional, authentic Italian restaurant (What do I order first? Are these items considered the "mains", what does it come with? Oh, contorni..etc).

Our server took our order 20 min. later and we asked some questions before ordering.

We started with the Frito Misto and Corn, Mint and Proscuitto. These came beautifully presented (love the "Nona's" china), but we sat there after they were dropped off with no plates. We caught someone's attention quickly and received plates.

The fried vegetables were terrific, lightly fried, not greasy and crisp. The stuffed squash blossom was the highlight, stuffed with ricotta and I believe mint. Great combo. The pesto and marina were delicious. I also have to say how much I enjoy most any preparation of fresh artichokes, because prepping those suckers is about as easy as getting your fingers out of a Chinese finger trap.

We then turned to the corn dish and while the combination and execution were very good, the corn, unfortunately, lacked any sign that it's actually summer. I get it. I've been underwhelmed by the local corn thus far. But, while we were eating this, our mains arrived and as I saw 2 dishes brought near our table, I thought, "oh no'. We all had to play shuffle your plates and glasses around so we can get these mains on your table-- while we were eating our apps.

Then, I had to choose between trying to continue eat my corn dish at a leisurely pace, or hurry up lest my monkfish get cold. I chose the latter.

After we piled our app. plates and utensils to the side, we pulled our main plates in front of us.

It was then that I noticed Mr. MV's pork block must have been sitting in something wet and greasy, because it left a trail behind it and well, let's just say he sat upright and kept his elbows off the table while eating :lol:. He was a good sport about that, but trying to navigate eating a hearty pork chop, sausage (no idea what kind, wasn't mentioned on menu, server had no idea, I think it was cotochino and it was outrageously good) and garlic puree off a 6x8 flat slab of wood was a bit unwieldy.

I get it. It's rustic. But, it's so impractical. The utensils would slide off if he tried to rest the bottoms on the table (already an issue), so he had to lay them flat on the wood block between bites, which got stuff on the handles.

I know this comes off as picky, but we were just laughing at that point and thought, "we must be those suburban rubes who are so NOT hip that we don't know how to eat off a too-small block of wood!".

That said, the pork chop was excellent. Kissed with a bit of char and smoke from the grill, it was done just under medium and was tender and juicy and omg, I need to foray back into making gremolata because that condiment elevated the pork, while the garlic puree added depth.

If Mr. MV was eating this at home, he would have gnawed the bone. It was that good.

My monkfish was less impressive, I thought. The the fish was generous, fresh, lightly breaded and perfectly prepared, but the sauce just doesn't work for me. I didn't get dill, or lemon, and it could have really used the acid, given it's thickness, which only increased to an unpleasant level as the dish cooled. Also, the sauce has a less than attractive color, which I assume is why the dish comes garnished with some sort of green herb covering the top (I really don't think it was dill--took a few bites and just got grass) and edible flowers, for which I have absolutely no use. Both in no way added to the dish and seemed to be a way of making the dish visually more appealing once you realize it's monotone at best.

Dessert at $8 was a no brainer, and really hard to choose given the selections.

We went with the hazelnut coffee cake, caramel gelato and vincotto and enjoyed it very much. The cake was warm and I loved the hazelnut streusel on top. The gelato had good caramel flavor, but was restrained, allowing the vincotto to playfully punch it up, both winding up in a puddle happily mopped up with the cake.

So, there's my unvarnished account. We'll be back to explore more of the menu because we're so lucky to be experiencing this food in DC. I'm sure the service will tighten up and run more smoothly. No biggies there.

I'd strongly suggest that the pork chop come on a plate so it can be eaten in a civilized manner (seriously, unless you want to keep tidying your food up to the middle of the wood block lest you lose anything overboard, ask for it on a plate) and that the monkfish sauce get brighter and lighter.

Oh, forgot to add we got the zucchini contorno, with raisins and pine nuts and it was a big hit.

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Just a reminder (mentioned above) that things are 10% off here this month. I found that a pleasant surprise, and made up for the fact that service was pretty slow. A lunch with no dessert took 90 minutes. Our server did, however, walk us through the menu and did a good job of explaining all the menu items. The mixed seafood grill did not come in a dish like the one shown in ericandblueboy's picture, nor did it include mussels or clams. But it did include (I think branzino, monkfish, and dorade). Everything was tasty. The tomatoes and stracciatella, too.

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Being a new restaurant I would give service lapses a pass (there were a few, but nothing that was too offensive, but there is no excuse for poorly prepared food and for the most part that is exactly what we received.

I would not call the cooking that we experienced at Casa Luca last night to be a complete disaster, but it was close to it.

We started with two of the bites, the Heirloom Tomato & Stracciatella and the “Cazzimperio.” The tomato was my favorite dish of the evening, but with the quality of products that they use it is hard to screw up a dish like this. The “Cazzimperio” was not nearly as successful. It came with a single cured anchovy sitting upon a bowl of raw vegetables and what was supposed to be an anchovy salsa verde. The salsa verde tasted like a nut free pesto with no hint of the advertised anchovy.

These were followed up by the pasta dishes. The Scrippelle ‘Mbusse was certainly an interesting dish. While I enjoyed the first few bites and loved the texture of the crepe, I cannot see myself ordering this again. There was lemon zest and a smoky tasting pecorino hiding in the crepes that played well together, however when you also got a bite of the smoked ricotta the balance was lost and the dish tasted like an old ashtray smells. I was also a bit disappointed in the broth, for all the work that Joe describes it was remarkably devoid of flavor.

The pasta in the Campanelle was perfectly prepared, but it otherwise fell flat. When I think of a funghetto I think of eggplant and tomatoes and that is exactly what the pasta was dressed with though a little too sweet for my taste and completely lacking the promised spiciness. I am not sure where the “Shellfish Brodetto” was hiding, but aside from two shrimp there was no sign of any shellfish.

The two large head-on shrimp that I mentioned were interesting and I must commend the kitchen on achieving an interesting texture that would be repeated again in our final dish. I have cooked quite a bit of shrimp in my life and I have never figured out how to make edges of them develop the texture of wet bread.

This brings us to our final dish of the evening, the Adriatic Style Mixed Grill of Fish & Shellfish. I would like to say something positive about this dish, umm… hmm… it looked nice, sorry that is all I have.

The first two bites were the best; they were the grilled squid that had the texture and flavor of a well worn rubber band and an inoffensive mussel. Then came the clams. Oh dear lord, what did they do to these clams. It was as if they had died some days ago choking on a mouthful of sand.

Two more of the shrimp complete with the aforementioned inventive cooking method.

Both the monkfish and the scallops were so undercooked that the centers were still raw – there is a reason why you have never seen monkfish tail sashimi. The final piece of seafood was a perfectly cooked piece of branzino that was done in by a strong fishy taste.

The night was saved by a decent bottle of Falanghina and an affable waiter that was the spitting image of Australian wine guru David Forziati.

I will give them another chance, but when I do I will give the seafood a wide berth.

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Why is it that you presume that I have never eaten fresh shrimp? I have eaten and cooked with bushels of shrimp boat right off of a shrimp boat. The shrimp we had last night were simply not properly prepared.

He didn't (presume) and you have a good point (not prepared correctly). I think it was just a point of reference that a broader audience can benefit from. I'd have to say I wouldn't know if I've ever had fresh shrimp. I just assume it's frozen since, from what I've read, it's the best way to go for the masses that don't live adjacent to shrimping.

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That said, the pork chop was excellent. Kissed with a bit of char and smoke from the grill, it was done just under medium and was tender and juicy and omg, I need to foray back into making gremolata because that condiment elevated the pork, while the garlic puree added depth.

I'd strongly suggest that the pork chop come on a plate so it can be eaten in a civilized manner (seriously, unless you want to keep tidying your food up to the middle of the wood block lest you lose anything overboard, ask for it on a plate) and that the monkfish sauce get brighter and lighter.

It sounds like the kitchen is pretty inconsistent at this (early) point. I wish my pork chop would have come a touch under medium instead of the bit above medium I got, and there was no mistaking the healthy amount of dill in the monkfish sauce on our visit.

I couldn't help but laugh at the bit about the wooden block, as my wife and I went through the same contortions to eat the food without getting covered in what I'm sure was tasty pork jus.

The Scrippelle ‘Mbusse was certainly an interesting dish. While I enjoyed the first few bites and loved the texture of the crepe, I cannot see myself ordering this again. There was lemon zest and a smoky tasting pecorino hiding in the crepes that played well together, however when you also got a bite of the smoked ricotta the balance was lost and the dish tasted like an old ashtray smells.

Sthitch, have you tried the smoked ricotta crostini at Red Hen? It's certainly an aggressive flavor, and it may be a love it or hate it thing...

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Dined with a group of 6 last week and I would say our experience was similar to what has been posted above. We had several of the starters and an antipasto plate. Vegetables and cheeses are very strong here, and I can see myself coming to the bar and nibbling on those with a glass of wine. It is bizarre to be served an antipasto plate without bread, but it appeared that an order of cheese bread was coming to every table 'compliments of the chef', so that might be something that is being taken care of. Pastas were hit or miss at the table, with under seasoning being the biggest issue (in particular with the campanelle). I had the crepe, and I think whether you love this dish is going to come down to how you feel about smoked ricotta. Personally, I love it but it is the dominant note of the plate - maybe too much so but that's an ingredient I could eat a ton of all by itself. We ran out of time to try dessert because we had a show to catch.

Happy hour has very good drink deals ($5 wines and a few select cocktails, $4 DC Brau) and marginal discounts on meats and cheeses. I had a hard time straying from campari ice though.

To be honest this is why I usually don't go to restaurants when they first open because there are always kinks to work out. There were definitely more hits than misses on the table though and I will absolutely be returning soon.

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Second visit yesterday for lunch. Top line: Food was great, service was clumsy.

We were having a light lunch, so I only had the Fusilli with sheep’s milk cacio cheese, black peppercorns, burrata, basil. It was wonderful. Just the right size portion for lunch, creamy and sharp tasting without being heavy, and the pasta was perfectly cooked. It was one of the better pasta dishes I have had in a long time.

My friend ordered the fritto misto for one. They ended up bringing her the plate for two (by accident? They said the chef was feeling generous and we wouldn't be charged for the plate for two, and we weren't, but I wonder if it was really generosity or a mistake...). She liked it a lot. We ended the meal with coffees that were fine.

The main issue was the service. Although there were about 5 servers moving around in our section, it was impossible to get one of them to take our order. We had our menus down and kept trying to catch the eye of a waiter for close to 10 minutes after we had chosen our orders, and I finally had to literally turn around and tap a waiter and ask him to take our order. This is lunch, downtown. People want to be in and out in an hour or so. Waitstaff should be attentive to people's signals.

Once the orders were in, the service remained clumsy. When the food came, the pasta was placed in front of my friend, not me, so we had to tell the staff who ordered what. Not a big deal, but I expect more from Casa Luca. Then, we had the strange incident of the double fritto misto (and the waiter called my friend, in her late 50's, young lady, which I thought was strange). It also took ages for my iced tea to be refilled (again, not a big deal, but I expected more, and was already annoyed by the issues ordering.)

At the end, it was a similar hunting expedition to get one of the several waitstaff in our section to bring us the bill.

I was an early and vociferous supporter of Casa Luca, and I have no past allegiance to the chef (I haven't even been to his other restaurants). I'd say I still think the food is sublime, but the clumsy service needs work. I will go back, because I think the place is really on to something and the food just makes me happy. But, I hope that the service kinks get worked out!

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For user "Rieux". I am disappointed to hear that the service you received at Casa Luca did not live up to our standards or your expectations. Please contact me so that we can fully refund your meal.

fabio@fioladc.com

Fabio, nobody on this website is to contact you in any way for any type of refund. Period. If anyone does, please let me know so I can act on it immediately. I seriously doubt Rieux would ever consider such a thing.

Thank you for your generosity; that's not what this community is about, and I can't imagine anyone here would ever take you up on your offer. This:

I will go back, because I think the place is really on to something and the food just makes me happy.

is quite a positive summary; service kinks can be fixed, as you know. It was a very positive review while at the same time being critical in a constructive sense.

But thank you again, and cheers,

Rocks

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I was out last night, so I just saw all this when I woke up. First, I probably was inartful when I said service was awful in the topline. I should have more accurately said clumsy, and I edited the post to reflect that change.

Also, Chef, there is no need to refund me anything, nor would I accept a refund! As Don noted, I'd consider my post positive. As I said in my first post on Casa Luca after my first visit, I think the food is truly outstanding and I am so happy that your restaurant is near my office. Service issues are relatively easy to fix, and the issues that happened to us can happen anywhere. Were they annoying, yes, but they were not meal-destroying. If anything, I found them more annoying than usual because I can tell that the restaurant cares about service, and has set high standards. Those are good things, that will keep me coming back, as the staff rise to the occasion.

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Second visit yesterday for lunch. Top line: Food was great, service was clumsy.

We were having a light lunch, so I only had the Fusilli with sheep’s milk cacio cheese, black peppercorns, burrata, basil. It was wonderful. Just the right size portion for lunch, creamy and sharp tasting without being heavy, and the pasta was perfectly cooked.

Are the pasta dishes at lunch and dinner intended as primi or American-style mains, do you know?

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^I'm not Rieux, but I'll try answering your question.  The sizes vary; the fusilli portion is huge, the ravioli more modest.  This was at dinner.  We overheard a waiter telling another party that the pastas could be ordered in half portions, which is not stated on the menu.

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Ashok and I had lunch yesterday as we came to wish Fabio well! I personally watched in amazement how its so early, so young, so new , yet smooth, purposeful, and all smiles! Another fine restaurant is born , making its mark in a great food city, full of a community of restauranteurs and passionate ,educated, committed foodies who route for success! Sounds like a counterpoint to a recent essay :)and there will be more ..... GO Fabio and team!!!

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Jason and I had happy hour and dinner at Casa Luca on Friday night, and we enjoyed ourselves.  The sparking wine by the glass is a touch too sweet for me, but for $5 at happy hour, it was a nice way to ease into the weekend.  Cocktails are great - we ordered both on and off menu, and both were successful (I particularly enjoyed the Cornicello, with tequila, chili-infused Aperol, St. Germain, and lime).  We started with some breads, manchego, and a prosciutto and corn starter.  Everything was tasty, but the cheese bread disappointed a bit (dry, and not much cheese flavor) - the flatbread was the star of the carbs.  After our happy hour companions departed, we ordered some pasta - bucatini for husband and gnocchi for me.  Both were delicious, and the pastas perfectly cooked.  The duck ragu on the gnocchi was super flavorful, and very filling - I felt like the portion sizes were more than enough for a dinner portion, since the food is so hearty.  We weren't too full for a dessert, so we opted for the hazelnut coffee cake.  Yum - great texture, and the caramel gelato that came with it was some of the best I have ever had.

Service at the bar was excellent, even though it was hoppin' (the restaurant itself, surprisingly, didn't really start filling up till closer to 8 PM).  We drank quite a bit, 4-5 rounds for each of us, so the tab was bigger than I was anticipating - but I feel that the prices are reasonable for what you get and you can certainly have a less expensive meal if you're not big lushes like we are.  :P  If I had to choose, I'd probably stick with the bar at Fiola for my happy hour, but I'm so pleased to have a more moderately priced Italian option.  Bravo and congrats to Chef and his crew!

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My wife and I had a delightful dinner on Saturday night in this much improved space. I like that they lightened the long room quite a bit from Againn's dark design, which always made the room feel a bit grim during the later dinners I had there.

We started with the Marche Classic Cheese Bread, which was pleasing and well baked, and the delicious Wagyu Beef Bresaola, which was expertly cured and had a delicously rich flavor without coming across as fatty or greasy. These both were great ways to start off the meal, but I can't say that I would go back for either at their price tags ($8 and $20 respectively). The bread was no bigger than a large muffin, which was perfectly fine for our relatively light appetites, but nothing life changing. The Bresaola, however, was delicious, but (and I hate doing this) a very skimpy portion of 4 finely shaved pieces of beef. Great stuff but not where the value is at this restaurant.

The pastas are where this place becomes a bargain for the quality coming out of the kitchen. I went with the Smoked Potato Gnocchi, which was swimming in a copious lake of braised duck and cremini mushrooms in an extremely homey sauce that took me back to my childhood growing up in Europe. Perfectly cooked and sized gnocchi that really benefitted from being smoked, which added more earthy depth to this bowl of pasta. This was as good as anything I had at Tosca pre-renovation, a restaurant I used to be very fond of. My wife when with the pleasantly light Campanelle, which came with two large head-on prawns and a delicous shellfish brodetto. This was one of the most unique pasta dishes I have had in DC, showing a flavor profile that I can't remember having before but am looking forward to getting again on a return visit.

Overall a great place if you choose wisely, I'm looking forward to coming back as the weather gets older and some of the heartier pastas start coming out of the kitchen.

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Went out last night to Casa Luca, as my boss invited me to dinner. I'm coming up on being named partner, and if the godfather is inviting you to a nice Italian restaurant, you're either going to come out a made man or get a bullet in the back of the head. "Oh, hey Dr. S, why are you wearing a raincoat?" But, really, I was hoping for more appropriate mafioso type weather. There wasn't a barely perceptible frost in the air, a darkness of the sky, or an upcoming drizzle. It just happened to be a perfectly beautiful DC evening.

I was early and so waited at the bar. As others have said, it is a very pretty space. There is a lot of light, high ceilings, wooden finishes, and the acoustics were not bad for such a space. I really liked it, and could definitely hang out at the bar and get a meal. The bartender was attentive. They didn't have my first choice (DC Brau Public, keg was kicked; does anyone else feel so lucky that DC finally has an amazing local brewery?), so I got a bottle of Bear Republic Racer X IPA. Yeah, probably not ideal for an Italian place, but I like my hops. The boss arrived, and we were early for our reservation, so we went up to the girl up front and told her we'd be ready to be seated. So, this caused a little confusion. We went back to the bar and several minutes passed. Initially, he didn't get a drink, but after 10 minutes he got a Goose and tonic. I went back to the girl and asked what was going on - she said, "Oh, I didn't want to bother you guys, but we've been ready for you!" Sheesh ...

We sat down and chatted. Water glasses were filled promptly and he went over the extensive menu. Both of us were hungry, but I was a bit nervous and he is trying to be in better shape, so we didn't end up ordering all that much food. We ordered the Marche Classic Cheese Bread, with buffalo butter. It has 3 cheeses in the dough, and is cooked like a pop-over. It doesn't taste cheesy as in stretchy, but the bread had moisture and depth to it. I enjoyed that and we finished it off. We both got the Heirloom tomato salad, as it is in season. Some greens, fresh ricotta. It was awesome. There was an option to share, but as the godfather noted, "Would they really just give us half of this?" It's not the largest portion, but each component was super fresh and we both enjoyed it. We both ordered pastas as our entrees. I got the Ravioli San Leo - ricotta and greens, lemon zest, almonds, and nepitella (I didn't know what it was until I just now looked it up). It was creamy and tasty, perfect amount of salt/seasoning, and rich without being overbearing. There was this taste of mint that I wasn't expecting with each bite (duh!). It was very clean and simple and tasty. The Godfather got the Smoked Potato Gnocchi - classic Duck Ragu, Cremini. I really enjoyed this dish, he saved the last third or so for me to try. The gnocchi were perfectly soft but just a little chewy, which is how I like it. The duck must have been braised, it was tender and perfect. It was just a bit salty, and I think maybe that was just the earthiness of the cremini.  We got coffees to end the night, no dessert.

The quality of the ingredients and preparation make me want to try a whole bunch more. And I will on a date or a group thing soon. Fabio gives good pasta.

And ... I'm now a wiseguy :)
S

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I believe his single best pasta dish is Elbow Maccheroni or large head on "Prawns, Shellfish Brodetto, Spicy Eggplant Funghett" served tableside in a copper pan where the Maccheroni and prawns are plated immediately before serving.

This is the same dish dPop refers to as "Campanelle" in post 31 above.

I passionately stand by my comments in post #8 above.

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Ate there on Monday and absolutely loved it. Also had no trouble just walking in and getting a table at around 7:30 pm FWIW.  My only criticism is that the amount of food that our waiter suggested we order (five to six small plates to start, then an order of pasta per person, then an entree) would led to us ridiculously over-ordering. What we ordered instead (Antipasto Misto, a half order of pasta per person and a single entree to share) proved pretty much right on the money.  

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Well, here we go. Looking back on the list of stuff that we (by which I mean, mostly me) ate, I'm landing somewhere in the triangle of embarrassment, surprise, and beaming pride.

The missus and I and a friend arrived a little early, so we adjoined to the bar (natch.) At which I point I started knocking back fancy cocktails. La Contessa. Il Palio (love the Campari ice). Tarantella. Nice, leisurely hangout, admiring the 180 turn inside from the space that was Againn.

Then, the real fun began. Looking through the menu, I briefly considered ordering one of everything before remembering we had a babysitter with a time limit. We were in a dried-and-cured mood, and before I could raise my hand, the waiter cheerfully suggested, "belota!" BOOM, done. Also the prosciutto and peach. And some cheese, you know, a nice burrata. Oh, and let's try a red wine-washed bleu cheese. Wife wants the corn salad (which, hey, prosciutto!)

They all came nicely paced, except ... why are there two servings of belota here? "This could be a mistake from the kitchen," our waiter says, "but I'm to put it here anyway." The evening is shaping up to be epic. It seems my first two thoughts after the belota hits my palate are, "where has this been all my life?", and "what the hell took me so long?" All conversation halted by the sound of eating.

Mains: bucatini campagnola for the wife, branzino for the friend, and now I'm all go-big-or-go-home. Or ... go-home-big ... porchetta!

Now then: I've never had a proper porchetta before last night. I assume that nagging stain on my life has been erased. I briefly considered getting up and dancing but my mouth was full, and I was taught that's a choking hazard.

In for a penny, in for a pound. Cassatta and grappa to the end.

Pix!
post-4177-0-65317100-1375473053_thumb.jp Buona sera, belota!
post-4177-0-42941200-1375473084_thumb.jp Am I blu? (Si.)
post-4177-0-84076600-1375473110_thumb.jp Corn, meet prosciutto.

post-4177-0-73695300-1375473137_thumb.jp BURRRRATA!

post-4177-0-44037300-1375473183_thumb.jp Prosciutto peachyness
post-4177-0-51570900-1375473271_thumb.jp Bucatini.
post-4177-0-61630000-1375473300_thumb.jp Branzino. Simply elegant.
post-4177-0-48576400-1375473324_thumb.jp Porchetta. I'm in trouble. Good, good, trouble.
post-4177-0-91527100-1375473353_thumb.jp Aaaand, I'm spent.

I thought all aspects of service went very well. I also have to thank the staff for finding my wife's phone, which she dropped under the table. I drove down there this morning, where Jonathan retrieved it from the safe and returned it to us. Thanks again for everything.

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In the latest installment of DINKs Who Dine, we were by much looking forward to our dinner Saturday night at Casa Luca. As big fans of Fiola and having read the generally glowing commentary online, we had high hopes for this meal. I won't go so far as to say it was disappointing, but wasn't exactly what we thought it would be.

For starters, this place is soo loud. Like headache inducing loud. And with the AC cranking despite a totally packed house it was kind of chilly. Also, we had at least three different waiters, one of whom was the manager, over the course of the meal. I will say that they apologized several times for the consistently inattentive service. Had they not acknowledged this I think we would have been pretty pissed. But it would have been better if it didn't keep repeating itself throughout the meal.

I started with the mixed greens which are a hybrid of a green salad and fruit salad. I really enjoyed it, but it is also kind of weird. Add a couple pieces of cheese and it could be dessert. Husband had the heirloom tomatoes and straciatella. Looked good and tasted good. But he commented he should have ordered some bread with it because it was kind of small.

For an entree I had the grouper with lemon, dill and artichokes. The grouper arrived whole, head on and is then carved table side. It was perfectly cooked and the sauce was delightful. But the fish was served with the skin still on it. It was sticky and gelatinous and totally not appealing. It was also very difficult to separate from the meat of the fish. My husband had the fusilli which is basically Cacio e Pepe. He didn't dislike it but didn't love it either. I think he was hoping for something more exciting and less comfort food.

Dessert was arguably the best part of the meal. I had the cassata semifreddo, which I totally loved. He had the brioche and gelato. The burnt honey gelato was pretty incredible. To thank us for our patience, they brought over shots of limoncello. I liked the strawberry better than the lemon bay leaf. He was of the opposite opinion.

Overall, we're not sure what to make of our experience last night. I won't say we won't go back, we just won't rush there. I think you can get a meal of similar quality at Al Dente or Dino minus the noise and the difficulty of getting a reservation.

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The highlights of a recent meal here were Gazpacho (ordered by my husband - not on the online menu, so either a special or new addition); Bucatini Campagnola (ordered by me); and Caramel Gelato (shared).  The gelato was part of the hazelnut coffee cake dessert plate, but they graciously allowed us to order it separately for $4.  It had a deep, rich, close-to-burnt (in the good way) caramel flavor.  My half order of pasta was $12, and, as noted above, was probably larger than a half portion.  I'd happily order the bucatini again but would also like to try some of the other pastas.  

 

Above average dishes:  Meatballs & Sugo Finto from the Piccoletti section of the menu for me and a pasta special my husband ordered of Scrippelle 'Mbusse.  I only had one creamy bite of the crepes so can't say much, but my husband was satisfied with the plate.  I loved the sweet tomato sauce with the meatballs, but the bit of lemon zest sprinkled over the meatballs took the flavor off course for me.  There seemed to be a fair amount of citrus on the menu, including in places I wasn't expecting it, so perhaps it's a feature of the regional cooking. 

 

We didn't choose well for the mains.  My husband had Angus Beef Ribeye Cacciatora (Cipolline Agrodolce, Mushrooms, Pancetta).  He was not fond of the sauce and found the steak somewhat tough, though it was cooked to the medium rare ordered.  The agrodolce overwhelmed the flavor of the cipolline and everything else for him.  (The remainder that we brought home didn't seem particularly tough to me, but I didn't have any in the restaurant.  I also enjoyed the mushrooms that came home with the meat.)

 

I got the Thursday special of porchetta.  I've never had proper porchetta before and didn't really care for this a whole lot, so maybe it's just me.  I feel ungrateful, given the lengthy and complicated preparation that goes into it.  The au jus from the cooking was flavorful, but even pouring most of it on, I found the porchetta dry.  At the same time, the skin wasn't very crisp or crackly.  The fennel and other herbs came across too strong for me.   This was served with two green sauces, one of which had more fennel and the other which was a salsa verde with anchovies.  I tried a little of both on the meat and they were tasty enough, but I didn't really want a lot more seasoning.  

 

The porchetta came with a small salad of mixed greens with a dressing that seemed slightly citrus-y.  The salad was in what seemed like a tea cup, and I couldn't tell if I was supposed to try to eat it from that or spoon it onto the plate with the meat.  I ended up awkwardly doing both.  Several of the serving vehicles were creative in that way but not necessarily the most user-friendly.  Gazpacho also came in a fairly narrow glass, as did the gelato.  The steak was served from a big metal basket.

 

Our server was pleasant and helpful, as were the other people who came to the table.  Our mains, however, were brought to the table before we were finished with our pasta course.  My husband was pretty close to finished, but I still had a fair amount of pasta left.  I decided against asking them to take the food back until we were ready, since I figured I wouldn't be able to eat much pork if I finished the pasta.  So, no harm, no foul.

 

I didn't care much for feeling pressured to fill out a comment card at the end of the meal, but that's surely something the server was told to do, so it didn't affect our impression of the service.  The restaurant was loud but not unbearably so.  

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Husband had the heirloom tomatoes and straciatella. Looked good and tasted good. 

This was my favorite item I had at Casa Luca so far.  Really good tomatoes, creamy mozzarella, a few crumbles of something (not really sure, I think bread) and a delicious sauce that was somewhat reminiscent of Kraft Catalina dressing (in a good way).  I could have eaten several ramekins of this.

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This was my favorite item I had at Casa Luca so far.  Really good tomatoes, creamy mozzarella, a few crumbles of something (not really sure, I think bread) and a delicious sauce that was somewhat reminiscent of Kraft Catalina dressing (in a good way).  I could have eaten several ramekins of this.

This was one of my favorite items as well.  (Though if the dressing was somewhat reminiscent of Kraft Catalina dressing, I might have to pick some up on my next trip to Safeway.  If I recall, the primary flavor for me was balsamic or perhaps sherry vinegar.)  Pretty sure that the crumbles were fried bread crumbs. We also really enjoyed the gazpacho and the scallop pesto risotto, and, for dessert, thought the hazelnut cake and affogato (although not anything like a traditional affogato - more like an amped up hot fudge sundae, with bits of a delicious hazelnut brittle) were both outstanding.  Had a couple of other items as well, and the only thing we probably wouldn't consider ordering again was the cheese bread - nothing wrong with it - it was fine - but we didn't find it particularly special either.  Bravo to Fabio and Casa Luca for offering the $28 wine list.  We went on a weekday night when we might not ordinarily have ordered a bottle of wine, but the "everyday selections" made it reasonable for us to do just that.  And with some interesting choices as well (we went with the Verdejo).

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I took Bob here tonight for his birthday. I had made the reservation a month ago, given the buzz, but the restaurant was probably less than half full even when we left, at least the front room (many people outside, however, given the beautiful evening). I won't add much to the food commentary, but to say that all the food was good, with no particular misses. Bob loved the bucatini, which was his main, and his starter salad of burrata and heirloom tomatoes. My gnocchi with duck ragu was delicious as was the hefty "Giuseppe Trabocchi" pork chop--not as dry as Tom Sietsema suggested in his first take (though both really were more fall dishes). Service was very professional and prompt (kudos to Franz), and the $28 Nebbiolo was a great, inexpensive compliment to the meal. Cocktails are well made but pricey at $13 each.

The question that Casa Luca leaves me with is this: for better or for worse, like it or not, Le Diplomate has changed the dining equation in DC. Jeff Buben as much as admits this in his plans to revamp Woodward Table. As good as the food can be, Casa Luca is not the Italian version of Le Diplomate. That's okay--but is it enough? The atmosphere is pleasant but not exceptional, though I suspect it has the potential for extreme noise when it gets crowded. But it doesn't take you to another place and the more rustic food (compared to Fiola) doesn't always fit the decor. But in a market filled with many good Italian options, does it really do enough to rise above the rest?

Don't get me wrong--I like the food, and I don't think every place should aspire to be Le Diplomate. Casa Luca can probably do well with its name chef, reasonable prices, and sheer quality. But it also feels like a place that falls just short of what it could be, to really bring together good food and a transporting atmosphere--to be, as Buben says, "bigger than life." But, given it was an idea that Fabio put together in relative short order, it feels a little like a rush job that could have been even more with a bit more vision to the whole. Saying this feels a bit miserly given all its true strengths, which I honestly admire. But, selfish man that I am, I want more, and I think Fabio Trabocchi has shown he has the talent to deliver that. This is still a young operation with the potential to deliver much, much more.

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The question that Casa Luca leaves me with is this: for better or for worse, like it or not, Le Diplomate has changed the dining equation in DC. Jeff Buben as much as admits this in his plans to revamp Woodward Table...

Don't get me wrong--I like the food, and I don't think every place should aspire to be Le Diplomate.

Good God, I hope that the future of dining in DC isn't Le Diplomate.  That place is a theme park of a restaurant.

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The question that Casa Luca leaves me with is this: for better or for worse, like it or not, Le Diplomate has changed the dining equation in DC. Jeff Buben as much as admits this in his plans to revamp Woodward Table. As good as the food can be, Casa Luca is not the Italian version of Le Diplomate...

Don't get me wrong--I like the food, and I don't think every place should aspire to be Le Diplomate.

Good God, I hope that the future of dining in DC isn't Le Diplomate.  That place is a theme park of a restaurant.

Jeff Buben also cites McDonald's Happy Meals as a model (seriously).  God help us all.

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Good God, I hope that the future of dining in DC isn't Le Diplomate.  That place is a theme park of a restaurant.

After I wrote that last night, it occurred to me that perhaps the better point of comparison I was reaching for is Central. One of things that has made that a perennial draw since it opened is the sense of celebration that it conveys, not just in the food but also in the ambience. It has a magnetism that encourages return visits (surely in part due to Michel Richard's personality). I think Le Diplomate has that, too, but as some have noted, in a more "engineered" way (and let's face it: people return to theme parks not just because they have fun but also when the park does it job well). But I think that's what I found missing in Casa Luca: that celebratory personality which could--should?--be part of its stock in trade. It may yet develop that; it took Fiola also some time to find its stride. But some places like Central and Le Diplomate seem to have that from day one, however they achieve it, and I find it interesting that Buben feels he needs to develop that more at Woodward Table. Of course, Casa Luca may do very well regardless, which is by no means a bad thing; to me it just feels like it is still missing that bit extra.

(I also want to stress that I don't think this kind of "bigger than life" personality is now a necessary standard for all restaurants. Many places achieve their magnetism simply by how they imbed themselves within their neighborhoods--Montmartre, Mintwood Place, and Red Hen come to mind--or by other equally good/valid standards. But it would also be foolish to think that a place like Le Diplomate doesn't alter the market or change expectations in some significant ways.)

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Had dinner Saturday night at Casa Luca.  Overall we really liked it and will definitely be back.

First thing I like the design and the colors, it was comfortable and I didn't ever feel like it was too loud, although it definitely was crowded.  We had an 8:15 reservation, we got there about 10-15 minutes early so we could have a cocktail at the bar.  Bar is nice, I had the Alexandra cocktail which was good.  The bartenders were really friendly and warm, wonderful group of people.  Hubby had one that I didn't try.  After a drink we checked in with the hostess stand as they hadn't come by to say our table was ready.  We were told an outside table was available.  I did not prefer to sit outside, it was a bit chilly at that point so we went back to the bar.  We were trying to determine, order bottle of wine now, have another cocktail then get glasses of wine at the table, Hubby asked how long they thought it would be they said 10-15 minutes.  I understand it was busy, wasn't a particularly big deal as we had nothing else we needed to do. We just were trying to decide if we wanted another pre-table drink.  Bartender then gave us glasses of the house prosecco, which was nice, and very smooth. And was a really nice thing to do while we waited.  We were seated around 8:30 ish, which was fine.  The front of house seemed a little bit disoriented, almost like there were too many of them.  But nothing that won't smooth itself out in time.

Got to our table.  All the food around us looked great so it was hard to decide what to order!  Neither of us were really starving, so we split an order of the meatballs and then got pastas.  Hubby doesn't like figs, but the fig and proscuitto looked really good.  He also doesn't like beets, another thing I would be interested in trying.  The manager asked if we had been helped and we had.

For dinner I ordered the bucatini and Hubby ordered another pasta dish that had riccotta or some type of fairly soft cheese, but I didn't try it.  The meatballs were really good, very tender and I liked the red sauce they were in, a nice little nibble. They tried to bring us our neighbors wine, but they got that sorted out. I love bucatini and this one didn't disappoint, this one was made really well.  I liked the sauce with it which was just enough sauce.  We both felt the portions were just the right size, not too small, not too big.  We also got 500 ml of the sangiovese that was on tap.  We both really liked the wine selections offered on tap and by the bottle, and we liked that you could get the carafe of wine, which is nice when you also want some cocktails so you don't have too much wine.

I didn't order dessert honestly I wanted dessert, but nothing said, "Eat Me!" I find this fairly common in a lot of Italian restaurants, I don't know why this is.  A chocolate torte isn't normally chocolate enough for someone who really likes chocolate, I normally don't like it.  The coffee cake was the best looking thing on the menu, but I wanted something more than coffee cake.  I don't know, I felt the dessert selection a little weak.  I am a dessert lover, so when I can't find something that looks really good, I rather go home and eat some good chocolate than something that doesn't look great to me.  I think a lot of it may be the wording, that while accurate just doesn't convey a good description of what the dish is and why I want it.

The other weird thing was that the manager came by to check on people an awful lot, and just didn't have quite the charismatic touch you need to be able to pull that off well.  Not that she wasn't nice, it was just a bit... odd.  It felt as if something had happened and now she was keeping a watchful eye out, and it wasn't just us, but the table around us. The service just wasn't as great as at Fiola where I just love the service, but I think that's a time and gel-ing thing that will happen.  Overall I would love to go back and try more food.  I hope Fiola still has Cacio E Pepe on the menu because Casa Luca's had burrata in it, and that just isn't the same and I LOVE that dish at Fiola.  The pastas are really great.

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I ate there a week or so ago and thoroughly enjoyed it.  In fact, it's the kind of place that if someone asked me for a recommendation of somewhere with great food that is also casual and fun, I would send them here.  I had fusilli with sheep's milk Cacio Cheese, black peppercorns, burrata, and basil, which I found to be simple but at the same time memorable. Every ingredient came together just the way it should- the texture of the pasta, the smoothness of the burrata, and the fresh aromatic basil.

My husband had branzino al forno with red peppers, tomatoes, olives, and basil with a salsa verde on the side that added another layer of flavor.  The fish was perfectly cooked, and my husband declares it the best branzino he has ever had.  High praise indeed, as he eats a fair amount of branzino.

I would head back to Casa Luca in a heartbeat, although in reality I'm sure it will be many heartbeats before I have another opportunity.

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Now open for breakfast.

Have Breakfast with Us, Italian Style
 

We are open for breakfast starting Monday, October 14! 

  • Breakfast will be served from 7:30 am to 10:30 am Monday through Friday
308.jpg
Classic filled Italian doughnuts, bomboloni
  • Our breakfast offerings include yogurt and fresh fruit, frittata, breakfast sandwiches, savory tarts and sweet pastries, fruit juices, coffee, tea and Italian-style hot chocolate 
  • Our offerings will also be available for takeaway
  • Book a breakfast event! Our private rooms are also available for your business breakfast meetings. Contact Shelby Will at shelby@casalucadc.com or call 202-347-2487 for more information.

We look forward to seeing you at Casa Luca for Colazione all'Italiana (Breakfast, Italian-Style!). 

 
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The food is great (the bucatini and lamb chops were exceptional).  The wine list is full of wonderful values ($28 bottle list especially).  The cocktail that I had at the bar (Il Palio) was well crafted.  The setting is refined (enough) and fun, but not stuffy.  For all of these reasons, I will go back to Casa Luca.  But, they have been open long enough for service to not be an issue, and this is something that they seriously have to assess and fix going forward.

I sat down at the bar at 5:05 PM.  I ordered my cocktail almost 15 minutes later.  There were five other people at the bar at that time, so it was not crowded.  The bartender was simply aloof, playing around with her cell phone and trying to figure out how to change the channel on one of the TVs.  I finally got her attention and ordered my drink.  After that, she was perfectly pleasant and made a great cocktail for me, but that wait cost them another cocktail from being ordered.

When our entire party of six got there, we asked for our table (we had 5:30 PM reservations).  They were able to seat us right away, as the restaurant was essentially empty, but they tried to squeeze us into a table for five even though we had six people (I determined that it was a table for five since there were five place settings on it).  We asked for another table, but they were insistent that we could fit at this table.  One of the people seating us even said, "We always seat SEVEN people at this table, you can EASILY sit here with six people."  Whatever, please seat us at another table.  "Well, we have to check if there are any tables available, we are very busy tonight."  Whatever, please seat us at another table.  They did, our new table was perfectly pleasant, and surrounded by other empty tables, I'm just not sure why we had to fight to get it.

Once we sat down, our server, for the most part, was great.  She was very knowledgeable about the menu and the wine list.  Awesome.  But, we had one person at our table that is allergic to nuts.  We told her this at the beginning of the night and simply asked her to point out any dishes that have nuts in it and, if possible, to please omit nuts from any dish.  OK, we are good to go.

Luca Antipasto Misto comes to the table, there is a dish of pesto on the plate.  Question, "Does this pesto have nuts in it?"  Answer, "No, it is a traditional pesto and that doesn't have nuts."  Question, "Can you please go check on that?"  Answer (once she checks), "Yes, there are nuts in that."

Ravioli San Leo comes to the table, we ordered it without almonds.  I take a bite, there are definitely nuts in it.  Question, "Can you please bring us an order of the ravioli without nuts in it."  Answer, "There aren't any nuts in that dish."  Statement, "Yes there are."  Statement, "Sorry, I will get you another order."  Another order came out, it was damn good.

Overall, we had a great night.  Good food, good drinks, good company.  But, Casa Luca, please get your stuff together and fix the service issues that seem to be relatively common at your otherwise wonderful restaurant.

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First meal at Casa Luca on Friday and my initial thoughts are that it was a pretty mixed bag.  I say this having really enjoyed Fabio's cooking at Fiola, but also understanding that Casa Luca isn't trying to be Fiola.

The good:

-I wish more restaurants (and I suppose some are) would strive to serve good quality wines for a reasonable price range.  The Nebbiolo (a wine I find myself drinking more and more of lately) was excellent.  One thing I found interesting, they have "tumbler" style wine glasses at the table and poured our wine into those...but the tables around us were giving typical bowl style stemware.  I don't really care (although I do prefer proper stemware vs. stemless), it just struck me as odd if they only use that for people ordering the cheaper wine.

-Burrata Salad with pesto and roasted tomatoes was an excellent dish with perfect burrata and nicely done pesto / tomatoes that made me think of summer

-The Bucatini was perfectly cooked and a nice sized portion, even though the guanciale flavor was a bit subdued

- Hazelnut cake with gelato and chocolate sauce - delicious and a perfect way to cap off the meal

The not as good:

-I read up thread about the banquet seats not being that close together...something must have changed b/c we were literally almost on top of our neighbors.  I felt like it was impossible to have a conversation without announcing it (as its also loud) to my neighbors.  In a funny turn of events, I ordered my main based on what the folks to my left received, and the folks on my right did the same once they saw mine.

-I ordered the filet medium rare.  Apparently its cooked over a fire in an iron pot which I'd imagine causes some fun cooking time challenges...however, the steak I received was at minimum medium well if not well done.  As we were on our way to see Spinning Plates I didn't bring it up as between the sauce, the ciopolini onions, and mushrooms with rosemary the steak actually was pretty solid if lacking any appearance of a pink or red interior.  I give the restaurant a heck of a lot of credit for making an overdone steak actually taste pretty good - I can only imagine how a properly cooked one tastes like.

All in all, it was a mixed first experience but I'll go back.  I will however expressly request we not sit along the banquets unless they decide to create a tad more space.

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